Loi Krathong, Chiang Mai

12-15 November 2016

Loi Krathong is a beautiful time of the year. It is a time of lights, of reflection, of peacefulness. In November, the weather starts to get chillier and the days get dark sooner – reminding me fondly of Canada when autumn romantically turns to winter.

The first year I experienced Loi Krathong, Chai placed little tea candles all around our apartment and in front of the house. We then bought a couple of krathongs and sent them down a river. A krathong is made of flowers, banana leaves, and bread, and usually there’s a candle or incense on top. Nestled amongst the flowers is a wish (or wishes) for the coming year. The act of letting go of the krathong represents letting go of negative feelings and resentments built up over the year.

Also at this time is the Yi Peng festival of lights, which is a part of Lanna culture in the North of Thailand. This is celebrated by sending lanterns made out of extremely thin rice paper into the sky at nighttime. There are key locations in Chiang Mai where people gather by the thousands to send lanterns simultaneously to the sky. The visual effect is astounding, but unfortunately so is the environmental one. Now in some parts of Chiang Mai, it is forbidden to light sky lanterns.

This year we will again float krathongs down the river near our house, but we are going to be mindful to use only material that can be eaten by fish or that will easily biodegrade. This is fortunately becoming a more common practice in Chiang Mai as people are more conscious of the rivers’ health. And this mindfulness makes sense because krathongs also symbolize the paying of respect to the water spirits.

We hope that if you are visiting Chiang Mai at this time of year, you take the time to enjoy one of these special ceremonies and you find peace as the year gently comes to a close.

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How do you spend Loi Krathong and Yi Peng? Let us know in the comment section below.


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