Loy Krathong or Lai Ka Tong is celebrated today, 22nd November 2018 across Thailand and nearby countries like Malaysia – Tazaungdaing festival, Myanmar, China and Sri Lanka (Poya). Loy means floating and Krathong is equivalent to a container, hence the “floating container”. This container is made of banana leaves, lily flowers, incense and candles, which are light up at the time it is placed in a waterbody; sea, river or pond.
It is a significant festival held yearly on the full moon night of the Lanna lunar calendar – 12th Thai month as a Thanksgiving Day but to the Goddess of Water, Ganga, Phra Mae Khongkha. According to King Rama IV, this was initially a Brahmanical festival that Thai Buddhists adopted to honour Buddha.
In fact the candle is light up for Buddha, while flowing away of the krathong symbolises letting go of negativity like anger and hatred. Some people cut off a tiny fingernails or hair and place it on the krathong as a symbol of deliverance.
The Lantern festival falls on the same day where people light up lanterns made of rice paper and bamboo which are released in the air. This is known as the Yi Peng Festival – consisting of the Karma/ merit making which can involve great sacrifices. However this festival today has taken the form of a more commercial and materialistic drive rather than spiritual.