An activity that takes place quite popular in Thailand every autumn is the “Lantern Festival”. Lantern festival in Thailand includes 2 main festivals, which are the Yi Peng festival and the Loi Krathong festival. These are two attractive festivals not to be missed when talking about festivals in Southeast Asia. The image of thousands of paper lanterns flying in the night sky in Thailand fascinates any visitor. Learn about the Lantern festival in Thailand in today’s article.
Some information about the Lantern festival in Thailand
During the Lantern Festival in Thailand, you’ll see two iconic scenes: swarms of sky lanterns soaring into the night sky – that’s the Yi Peng Lantern Festival or thousands of lotus-shaped baskets with candles and flowers drifting in the river at night – it’s the Loy Krathong Festival. Two Thai lantern festivals usually take place on the full moon day of November. In 2022, Loy Krathong will take place on November 9 while Yi Peng will take place on November 8-9.
While Yi Peng is only observed in northern Thailand, particularly in Chiang Mai, Loy Krathong is a national holiday. Especially, Chiang Mai is the only place where you can see both of Thailand’s lantern festivals on the same day. While most people recognize the iconic images of these dazzling festivals, few understand the significance of these festivals.
The Yi Peng Lantern Festival
The Yi Peng Lantern Festival is a special holiday for the Lanna people in northern Thailand. Although this festival is held everywhere in Thailand, Chiang Mai will be the place with the best scenery to see. In Chiang Mai, the stronghold of the Lanna culture, houses, and temples are decorated with colorful lanterns to mark the approaching holiday. Surprisingly, Yi Peng is not an official holiday, even though it is a major public event. It is celebrated on the full moon day in the second month of the Lanna lunar calendar, Yi means ‘two’ while peng translates as ‘full moon day’.
This festival of lights is iconic with thousands of paper lanterns being released into the sky, often decorated with written messages, prayers, and wishes. Lanterns also known as “Khom Loi” are made of thin tissue paper with a cross base. It is believed that releasing these lanterns is a symbol of letting go of bad luck and receiving merit as well as luck and fortune in the coming year – an important concept in Buddhism. If you release the lantern properly, it is believed that your wish will come true if you do good deeds in the coming year.
The Loi Krathong Lantern Festival
Loi Krathong Festival, also a Lantern festival in Thailand is held every year on the full moon day of December (usually in November). It is little known to outsiders, but it is a big celebration in Thailand. As a local Thai woman put it: “It’s a way of saying sorry for what you did to the river for the rest of the year.” Loi Krathong is derived from two Thai words. The first, “Loi”, means to float, and “Krathong” is a kind of small floating basket made from old banana stalks or bread. Loy Krathong literally means ‘floating a basket’.
Water lamps, also known as Krathongs- are made from banana stalks or toast (which locals consider better as a source of fish food). The stands are then covered with green leaves and decorated with flowers and garlands. A candle and incense stick are placed in the center and lit before releasing the lantern into the water. Then they put the small boat into a river as an offering to the water goddess Pra Mae Khongkha. The celebration is a chance for the inhabitants to seek the goddess of water for forgiveness for wasting resources and polluting the environment as farming has been the main source of income for Thais for ages.
Locals occasionally add coins for good luck to the float or hair and nails for bad luck and sadness. Couples who desire a long and happy marriage while simultaneously releasing their Krathong find the celebration to be very popular. According to popular belief, Loi Krathong originated in India. The Indian holiday Deepavali, which is also observed annually between the middle of October and the middle of November, shares certain characteristics with this one. Both celebrations send floating baskets to the river gods as a gesture of thanks and a request for pardon.
Thai legend tells of a beautiful woman of the Sukhothai court named Nang Noppamus, the daughter of a Brahmin monk. Because of her intelligence and talent, she created the first Krathong in the shape of an intricate lotus flower and presented it to King Ramhamhaeng, who was enthralled with the design, accepted the gift, and placed it in the water with a candle. lighting on the top. Although this legend is not true about the background of the festival, it is a story loved by Thai people, so much so that there is a beauty contest during the event named after this character.
Responsible Tourism during Lantern Festival in Thailand
Even if both of these festivals are really lovely and distinctive, it’s crucial that you be careful about how you take part in the events. Streams and rivers are clogged with Krathong after the annual festivals, and lanterns start to burn in the area’s designated wilderness, according to reports. Make sure your Krathong is composed of biodegradable materials instead, such as banana stalks or stale bread that will melt or be consumed by fish. Avoid using paper, foam, or plastic Krathong.
Avoid using paper and metal wire lanterns as well. If participating in the festival, use biodegradable lanterns made of bamboo and rice paper, and don’t bring more than one. Animals may suffer injuries and ecosystems may get contaminated if wire lamps are used.
Best places to see Lantern festival in Thailand
Yi Peng Festival
- Yee Peng Doi Saket: Try Doi Saket, which is around 30 kilometers outside of the city, if you want to enjoy the lanterns emerging from the night in the nearby countryside. Compared to Chiang Mai, this festival is somewhat smaller but less expensive.
- Northern Study Center: Two lantern discharges take place here on various days.
- Chiangmai CAD Khomloy Eco: Outside of Chiang Mai’s central business district, the local government hosts this ceremony twice a year.
Loi Krathong Festival
- Bangkok: Asiatique (Riverside), Wat Saket (Riverside/Old City), Phra Athit Pier (Riverside/Old City), Maharaj Lifestyle Mall (Riverside/Old City), Lumpini Park (Silom), Benjasiri Park (Sukhumvit), Benjakiti Park (Sukhumvit), Chatuchak Park.
- Chiang Mai: Nawarat Bridge, Thanon Charoen Mueang Bridge, Loi Kroh Bridge, and Tha Phae Gate.
- Sukhothai: Sukhothai Historical Park and Yom River in New Sukothai.
To sum up, If there is an epidemic to visit Thailand, do not miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the unique cultural space of the Lantern Festival in Thailand. Join the bustling crowd, experience making lanterns yourself and write your wishes and then float in the river or fly to the sky will definitely give you an unforgettable experience in your life. Leave a comment if you find the article interesting and we will be back for more articles introducing festivals of other Southeast Asian countries.