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Loi Krathong (ลอยกระทง) is a festival that is celebrated in Thailand, Laos and some other places in Southeast Asia that have a Thai or Tai heritage.

The Loy Krathong festival takes place on the evening of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. The dates of Loy Krathong change every year. This is always a source of confusion. Loy Krathong usually falls in the month of November. In Chiang Mai the festival is also known as Yi Peng or Yee Peng Festival. It last three days. The first day is the lantern festival, the second day is the full moon day and the third day is now the day of the Loy Krathong parade. Loy Krathong is not an official public holiday in Thailand. Most activities take place after dark. In 2019 the dates should be November 10, 11 and 12.

History of Loy Krathong

The history of the Loy Krathong Festival is rather obscure. Some people claim that the tradition of Loy Krathong originates in Sukhothai and was first organized by a court lady called Nopphamat. Others believe it was a Brahmanic festival that was adapted by Thai buddhist to honor the Buddha. Anyway, the ritual of Loy Krathong is about paying respect to the Goddess of the Water showing gratitude for the plentiful use of water and ask for forgiveness in the ensuing pollution. It is also about getting ride of misfortune and bad things that happened in the past and asking for good luck in the future. For this people float a “krathong” in the river.

The meaning of Loy Krathong

What does Loy Krathong mean? The verb Loy (ลอย) means to float. Krathong has various meanings. In this case it is small container or basket made of banana leaves, adorned with flowers, incense and candles. Loy Krathong means “to float a basket” which is what many people do during the festival on one of the three days. On many river or canal locations makeshift bamboo construction or steps are constructed to allow people to approach the water. Near these places food and drink sellers gather and local people sell their housemade krathongs to revellers. Each year the Loi Krathong Festival features activities at various venues throughout Chiang Mai such as boat races on the Mae Ping River, a lantern procession and contest, a beauty contest, and Krathong parades and contests.