05 November 2006

Loy Krathong

November full moon shine.
Loy Krathong, Loy Krathong.
And the water high in the river and the klongs (canals) .
Loy Krathong, Loy Krathong.
Loy Krathong is here and everybody's full of cheer.
We gather at the klongs
Each one with his krathong.
As we push away we pray
We can see a better day.

Jami has been singing this with her preschoolers the past week in anticipation of tonight's full moon, and the celebration of the Thai Festival of Lights. Now that Loy Krathong is upon us her one complaint is that they've ruined a perfectly good holiday with fireworks. It is a pretty good holiday. Lots of fire works, a sky full of lantern balloons, and the rivers and canals full of krathongs, which are little floating boats made from flowers and banana leaves pinned to a section of banana trunk. "Loy" means "to float," so the name of the holiday is actually "Floating Little Boats."

We bought this little krathong around the corner from our house, and then took it to the Mae Ping River on the other side of town.

All along the river banks a bamboo platform had been set up to allow people to get down to the water to release their krathongs. About twenty seconds after we'd released ours a little boy with a stick started to pull it out of the water, so I gave him a stern look, and he pushed it out further into the river instead.

A bamboo bumper helps keep the little boats from getting caught in the rocks. When you release the krathong you make a wish or say a little prayer. If the krathong disappears from view before its candle goes out then your wish will come true. I suppose if our krathong thief had succeeded he would have stolen our wish as well.

People were lined up all along Nakorn Ping Bridge throwing fireworks into the air or the river. Some of the smaller firecrackers would explode three times underwater, and the larger ones would keep bubbling up for several seconds, and you could feel the pulse from the explosion through the ground on the bank.

We're afraid our little marigold boat might have ended up in this log jam. Ironically Loy Krathong is celebrated to ask Mother River for forgiveness for polluting her waters. Maybe we should just restore wetlands instead.

Update as of 7 November 2006:

Our friend Eh has also posted on Loy Krathong. She was actually around for the parade (which happened Sunday night, the calender we had was not the most informative) and had an excellent view, perched on top of a fire truck (reminds me of A and A and I scaling fences years ago to get a good view of the Manhattan Halloween parade). In addition to shots of the parade she also found these nifty krathongs made of bread.

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