Above: a scene from the 2007 Loi Krathong fest in Bangkok’s Lumpini Park.
Central Thailand’s severe flooding has forced the country’s tourism authority to suspend planned celebrations of the annual Loi Krathong festival in Bangkok, Suphan Buri, and Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya.
One of the oldest festivals in Thailand, Loi Krathong will still be held elsewhere, including in Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, and Tak, Songkram, and Songkla provinces.
The fun-loving festival, which falls on November 8–11 this year, is celebrated throughout the kingdom as the full moon of Thailand’s 12th lunar month lights up the sky. Hundreds of thousands of krathong — miniature rafts beautifully decorated with flowers, lit candles, and other items — are set afloat in the Chao Phraya river and other bodies of water. Food, fireworks, and Lanna-style sky lanterns are usually part of the festivities as well.
Traditionally the krathong are dedicated to Mae Khongkha, the Mother of Waters, as an expression of respect and gratitude for the life-sustaining waters that flow throughout the country. With a fresh reminder of water’s power to both nourish and devastate, visitors can expect a particularly poignant ritual.
Photo courtesy of Robert Pollai (http://www.the-ninth.com)