Thursday, November 13, 2008
Narawat Bridge with heaps of the Khom Fai's floating in the sky
For those of you like me who are wondering what on earth Loy Krathong is, here's a quick excerpt from Wiki
In Chiang Mai Loi Kratong is also known as "Yi Peng". Every year thousands of people assemble to float the banana-leaf krathong onto the waterways of the city, honouring the Goddess of Water. A multitude of Lanna-style hot-air lanterns (khom fai) are also launched into the air where they resemble large flocks of giant fluorescent jellyfish gracefully floating by through the skies. These are believed to help rid the locals of troubles and are also taken to decorate houses and streets. (if you want to read more check it out here Loy Krathong
So the festival started off for me heading over to Denise & John's landlords place for a Loy Krathong party last night with the kids. Apart from eating waaay too much, we got to make some krathongs (the banana leaf 'decoration), then 'loy' them (set them off afloat), then play with firecrackers, in the way that we used to when were kids before the government decided they were too dangerous. Whether it was a good thing for us to 'loy' the krathongs, i'm not sure, as many of the christians here say it's not good to do as it's a buddhist thing. It's one of those things where we know that everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. For the sake of me being here for my first loy krathong, i think i was forgiven, especially after i reminded them that it's by grace we're saved, not by works. So the kids had heaps of fun decorating krathongs, 'loying' them and playing with fireworks.
Mimi with Norng Kim and the krathongs they had decorated
The kids with their decorated kratongs ready for 'loying' (floating)
James trying to spell with a sparkler
Then today at school, we got to make our own krathongs as well and had a bit of competition to see who could make the prettiest one. Unfortunately i didn't take the honours (no surprise really), but it was heaps of fun making them and hanging out with the teachers and other students. So that was a nice introduction to the real festivities that happen down at the river here in Chiang Mai.
Me with my teacher Khruu Jai
Making Krathongs with the students and teachers
me with my non winning krathong
Everyone with our Krathongs
Despite being warned by various friends that it's dangerous to go, i decided to go into town anyway. Hey, i've never been here in Thailand during a Loy Krathong festival, and while i'm here, i may as well experience as much of Thailand as i can. It's like telling someone who's never been to Sydney, to not go to watch the fireworks on NYE. It's definitely an experience I've never really thought of Thailand as a place where public safety was it's highest priority, and heading into town tonight, i definitely felt that. It was MAAADDD. Walking along the street with firecrackers going off left right and centre. Seriously, you have to have your wits about you at times. Then as they many of the lanterns were let off into the air, despite being really pretty, there was also the occasional tree that was on fire when one of the lanterns got stuck in the branches. Seriously though, it was lots of fun, really pretty and just maaaddd. It's hard to put into words all the sounds, smells, sights of the night. It really is something to see a bridge just packed out, with people letting off firecrackers, launching lanterns into the air so that there is just and endless stream of lights going up into the air. Then looking down at the river and seeing all these krathongs floating down the river. In many ways, many people seem to celebrate Loy Krathong here in the same way that many celebrate Christmas back home. Even though it has some religious/significance to some, many just embrace it as a fun time and get involved in the festivities, so that the meaning of it has been lost. Still, it's definitely an experience which i'm glad to have had.
some of the festivities
Just some of the mass loying (launching) of the krathongs
me on the bridge
krathongs for sale en mass
masses of people with Khom fai's being loyed every 2 seconds