Monday, December 2, 2013

Loi Kratong

The festival of lights
My come back “home” to the first host family after a week away started with a very special celebration, namely with the Loi Kratong festival night in Prasat. Similar event would take place in every town around Thailand on the full moon night in November, when the moon is at its brightest.
'Loi' literally means 'to float,' while 'kratong' refers to the lotus-shaped container which can float on the water. Originally, the kratong was made of banana leaves or a spider lily plant. A kratong can contain food, nuts, flowers, joss sticks, candle and coins. The loi kratong ritual is simple. You light the candles and the joss sticks, make a wish and let it float away with the current of a river or a canal. What makes it special is that thousands of people will gather beside the canals and rivers to do the same creating a very unique atmosphere. It is considered a romantic night for couples who would make a wish together to stay happily in love in the future.
Together with Pim, Mint and a few of their friends we prepared the kratongs by ourselves using banana leaves, flowers and candles. It was fun building the constructions together and although mine was very simple I was proud to have it done from the scratch J When all of us were ready and it got dark outside we drove to Prasat. I’ve never seen the place so crowded. The festival took place around a small artificial lake – at the entrance was a mini amusement park and some bars with music and on the other side I could see a big stage with dancers performing to the sound of Thai music. In the middle of the lake – hundreds of kratongs were floating creating a very romantic atmosphere. We found a spot at the riverbed, lit the candles, thought a wish and let our kratongs float in the water. May the wish come true!!!
As we walked along the lake we passed by kratongs prepared by different schools in Prasat – they were much bigger and so beautiful!!! The place looked wonderful and full of magic. This was definitely one of the nights to be remembered.
Below a few pictures from the preparations and the festival:
  The team :)
  Work in progress
  May my wish come true!
 Kratongs prepared by students from Prasat schools

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