We make flower boats for Loi Krathong and send them off into the dark night of the Mekong River from in front of our Thailand Painting Holidays guest house. This year it will be on Wednesday 25th November, a good time to visit and help make the flowers before floating them off to appease the Mekong spirits in the night.
This description is from Travelfish.org
Loy Krathong is a time to forgive, forget and literally launch fresh hopes into the universe. Along with the related Yi Peng events up north, the festival is celebrated across Thailand with no shortage of booze and fireworks to accompany candlelit lanterns floating on water and in the sky. Observed on the full moon of the 12th lunar month, 2014's "Festival of Light" falls on and around November 6.
Loy Krathong is rooted in a deep pool of animist beliefs, Theravada Buddhist tradition and early Thai-Lao-Shan history. The most popular legend stars Nang Nopphamat, a beautiful woman thought to have lived during the Sukhothai-era around the 14th century. In a successful attempt to attract King Ramkamhaeng's attention, she crafted a lotus-shaped offering with a candle and intricate fruit carvings, among other colourful bits, and floated it downriver. Hence the krathong was born.
As the story goes, the devoutly Buddhist King was so captivated that he established a holiday to honour the Buddha on a night when rivers and canals swell and moonlight blankets the sky. This is probably a tall tale crafted by King Rama IV in the 1800s, but that hasn't stopped millions of Thais from creating Nopphamat's signature offerings and competing in beauty contests that often bear her name.
Some say the festival is rooted in ancient Hindu ritual, while many feel it honours the magical naga serpents that are so pivotal to countless Southeast Asian legends. An especially popular belief holds that Loy Krathong is a form of devotion to Phra Mae Kongka, the Thai version of Ganga, Hindu goddess of water. In any case, Loy Krathong is clearly associated with water and its purifying power.
Thais view the festival as an opportunity to free themselves of bad luck; to start afresh and establish new hopes and priorities. In this way it's reminiscent of New Year's Eve in the West. Reflecting on mistakes and grudges -- allowing them to float away and be replaced by new hope -- makes Loy Krathong a moving event for many. Also echoing the Western New Year, it's simply an excuse to party for others.
The floating offerings known as krathong were traditionally crafted from pieces of banana tree trunks, spider lily plants or coconuts. While all of these remain popular, today they're often made from bread that serves as an offering to the local fishes as well as the river goddess. Some krathong are made from styrofoam, a practice that's frowned on due to the obvious pollution. There's no limit to how expressive a krathong can be.
The average krathong includes a single candle, incense, flowers and coins -- all offerings to the river goddess, nagas, Buddha and anyone else you care to include. A strand of hair or nail clippings is sometimes added to symbolise a relinquishing of negativity and bad luck. Some krathong are nothing more than a single lotus bud with a candle; others look more like floating wedding cakes.
Krathong can be purchased on the streets in any town or city in Thailand throughout the festival. Before letting it go, Thais typically hold it up to their foreheads while silently making a wish or reciting a prayer. The Thai word loymeans "to float," and it's believed that your wish will come true only if the candle stays lit until it disappears out of sight. If it sinks right after leaving your hands, well, better luck next year.