every year, at full moon of the 10th lunar month of the Thai calender, the Thais celebrate Loi Krathong in order to apologize to the gods of the waters for pollution and any other mis-behaviour. it is a very famous and beautiful custom, and well worth going.
it is a shame, though, that moving away from the traditional banana-leaves and-flower krathongs, more and more artificial flowers and paper are used – apparently without a thought that this kind of contradicts the whole idea of their festival, and rather adds to the pollution.
another negative experience are the people who swim around among the krathongs, taking out the money which you put in (alongside with some of your hair to personalize YOUR krathong). I wasn’t as shocked about the actual act of them doing it, as I was about how disrespectful towards their own customs they were, putting out the candles and throwing out the flowers in order to get what they were after.
despite these facts, it was lovely! I met with my Thai friend Sign and a couple of her friends and we went to a dam located in Kathu. actually, Loi Krathong in Phuket is special, because, contrary to the usual custom to float the krathongs in a river, people here release them into the sea. we were tempted to try that out but judging by the set-up of carnivals around famous beaches, it seemed that it was gonna be very touristy, which wasn’t what we were in for. the surrounding of the Kathu dam is very beautiful and I especially loved the atmosphere with all the laterns that were released into the sky. it made for a most beautiful setting, unfortunately quite hard to capture on an average digital camera.
Sign’s boyfriend Got explained a lot about the Thai customs to us, like how you put some of your hair into the krathong in order to make the connection to your person,and how you make a wish before you float it. that floating it also means floating away all your sins and bad spirits, and that you need to make a wish, just before letting the krathong go. he choose a krathong for me and let heri and me have two laterns to light.
after Sign and her friends had left, Heri and I stayed around for a while to take in the beauty of the event. we even went to get a second krathong, which we floated together.
(actually, the university had arranged a Loi Krathong activity which took the international students to a beach to float their krathongs. I could not take part as I was still in an exam. but going later, together with my Thai friends, and to a non-touristy setting proved to be the best way to celebrate loi krathong.)