The Origin Of The Festival & Its Significance
The festival traces its origin to the Hindu festival of Dipawali which is celebrated in India. Originally, it was celebrated as a thanksgiving ceremony to River Ganges, however, the Buddhists of Thailand adapted the festival to honour Lord Buddha. The candle raft (Krathong) is floated in the water as a mark of respect to the Buddha. Also, the raft is believed to carry along with it all the sins, grievances and angst of the person floating it, thereby offering an opportunity to begin a new life in a much better manner. A number of people cut their fingernails and hair and put it in the raft as a symbol of breaking away with all negative aspects of oneself.
The floating of the raft is also a way to give respect and thanks to the Goddess of water, Phra Mae Khongkha. It is also supposed to bring good luck.
The Beauty Contest
A Beauty Contest is organised during the festival and is known as "Noppamas Queen Contests". As per a legend, Nang Nopamas was the royal consort of King Ramkhamhaeng (the founder of Sukhothai). She was the first one to float a krathong in the water. She decorated it beautifully and floated it in the waters of the palace canal in a manner that it drifted past the king. The king was extremely impressed by this gesture and also the beautiful krathong. This incident gave rise to
a belief that if two lovers float a krathong on the water and if it continues to float till the time it is visible, then the love of the two will forever bloom.
The Best Places to Enjoy Loy Krathong
- In Bangkok, people assemble in large number at the banks of Chao
Phraya river and float their Krathongs. The big restaurants of the city
with ponds are also extremely popular amongst the tourists. However, you
should make prior bookings for both since there is much of crowd.
- Sukhothai - This is the place where the first krathong was
set afloat. A beautiful sound and light show is the highlight here.
- Chiang Mai - The festival is celebrated here for around a
week. Huge markets with several stage shows, a parade of the giant
kratongs along with the contestants for the title of Miss Nopamas are
the prime highlights. Another festival, Yi Peng, is celebrated along
with Loy Kratong wherein a number of hot air balloons made of ric paper
are released into air. To celebrate Loy Kratong in this place, prior
bookings need to be made.