On the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month, the tide in the rivers is at its highest and the moonlight is at its brightest. This is the time when Thai people gather and celebrate “Loy Kratong Festival” or the “Festival of Light”. One of the most ancient and fascinating traditions, Loy kratong has been practiced nationwide and conserved by from generations to generations. The word “Loy” means “To float” while “Kratong” refers to the lotus-shaped receptacle which can float on the water. Traditionally, people make the Kratong from banana leaves, layers of the trunk of banana tree and decorate it with flowers. On that night, thousands of people would gather beside the canals and rivers. With kratong in their hands, they light the candle, silently make a wish, carefully place the kratong in the water, and let it float away with the current. Watching intently as the float drifts silently downstream, they hope that the candle will not go out. Its flame is believed to signify longevity, fulfillment of wishes and release from sins. Altogether it is considered a romantic night for couples or lovers. Couples who make a wish together on Loy Kratong are thought to stay together in the future.
Although seemingly superstitious, this festival has a significant purpose behind its practice. People perform this tradition to express a gratitude to the goddess of water ‘Phra Mae Kongka’ for having extensively used, and sometimes polluted, the water from the rivers and canals. It is also in part a thanksgiving for her bounty in providing water for the livelihood of the people. In addition to making a wish, people also say thank you to the nature and apologize for any of their actions that spoil the environment. Growing up with this practice, children are thus instilled with the sense of conscience and conservatism. They are taught the value of water, and learn to apologize and show thankfulness to others.