Loy Krathong is a very important festival in Thailand. It is celebrated annually on the full moon day of the twelfth lunar month, the 'high water' season. This year, it will be held across Thailand on the night of November 3rd.
In Thai folklore, five goddesses personify the five material elements. “Mae Kong Ka” or Mother Water is one of them. Loy Krathong is the annual festival of thanksgiving to Mae Kong Ka for her bounty in providing water not only for drinking and washing, but for the essential means of livelihood of most Thais agriculture, fishing and transport by river and klong. At the same time Loy Krathong is a request for Mae Kong Ka's forgiveness for having used and polluted the water.
Loy Krathong is inseparable in Thai People's minds from the legend of a beautiful and talented lady called Nang Noppamus, the daughter of a learned Brahmin priest at the court of King Pho Khun Ramhamhaeng during the Sukothai dynasty some 700 years ago. Wanting to honour Mae Kong Ka in her own Brahim fashion, and being highly skilled and inventive, Nang Noppomas made the first krathong in the form in which we know it today, shaped like a large exquisite lotus flower. She presented this to the King, who accepted it, lit the candle and launched it on the water. This tradition continues to this day.
Literally, the word ‘Loy’ means to float, and ‘Krathong’ means a basket. On Loy Krathong day, krathongs are made by Thai people from a banana trunk and decorated with its leave and different kinds of flower. These small floating offerings are then filled with a candle and some incense.
Many people often add a handful of hair. They believe that as their krathong floats away, the water washes away their sins of the past year.
With all the floating lanterns, rafts, and other festivities, one of the major aspects of the festival is the many beauty contests that are held all around Thailand at the same time.