This Saturday 24th November is Loi Krathong day. This is one of the biggest of the special days, and there is lots written about it on the internet so we don’t need to repeat it here.
It is worth making mention though, of the infiltration of superstitions, rites, rituals and Brahmic influences into Thai culture. We can’t realistically expect a whole culture to be entirely Buddhist, and temples, in their capacity as cultural and community centres, are bound to be involved in this festival, even if it is not entirely Buddhist. The fact that the community gathers at the temple, and people hear dhamma talks and see the monks is Kalyanamitta – good friendship in the Holy life, and we need not criticise that the occasion is ‘superstitious’ or Brahmic in origin. It is definitely ‘Sanook’ and that is what the Thais are really concerned about. Enjoy.
The Loy Krathong festival dates back to the time of the Sukhothai Kingdom, about 700 years ago. It marked the end of the rainy season and the main rice harvest. It is based on a Hindu tradition of thanking the water god for the waters. The farmers of Sukhothai used to hold a festival of floating candles. One year, a beautiful woman called Noppamas, who was the chief royal consort, made some special lanterns for the festival. She made them from banana leaves and shaped them like lotus flowers. The king was impressed with what he saw, so he announced that krathongs would be floated on the water every year from then on. Today, the memory of that woman who made the first krathong is remembered in a beauty contest called “The Noppamas Queen Contest”.