aspect of the festival is simply as a romantic evening for couples
somewhat irrespective of any deeper meanings. However, if you are
determined to get caught up in the actual significance of what you
are doing. you should probably be aware that some Thais believe
that a bright future for a couple is only assured if their Krathongs
float in the same direction and stay adrift for the same amount
of time. Moreover, it is said that students of Chulalongkorn University
believe that couples who celebrate the festival together can expect
to see the end of their relationship during the course of the following
year, although I have no idea why they take such a contrary view.
But such things cannot detract from what is on the most basic level
a very sweet and charming evening for young couples to enjoy together.
Even though you won't have to worry about doing so yourself,
as ready-made Krathongs can be easily bought very cheaply on the
all important day, many Thai women expend a great deal of time and
effort in making quite beautiful and intricate little receptacles
into which to place their offerings. The tiny boat itself will traditionally
be cut from the trunk of a banana tree and decorated with a variety
of flowers and leaves, including orchids, African marigold and roses.
And of course, given the importance of a Krathong remaining afloat
for as long as possible, it must be well designed to ensure that
it doesn't over-turn as soon as it is hit by even a small ripple
in the water. For a while, Krathongs made from non-natural materials
such as polystyrene became very common. However, given that Thais
believe that another of the evening's raisons d'etre is to
seek forgiveness for consuming and abusing the water supplied by
nature, it seems rather odd to do so by polluting that very same
resource with hundreds of thousands of pieces of non-bio-degradable
garbage. I am glad to say that, with the growing aware-ness of environmental
have become far less popular and ones made of natural materials
are again becoming much more fashionable. Of course, this is something
that you really should bear in mind when buying a ready-made Krathong.
Other commonly held beliefs include that Loy Krathong gives
one an opportunity to wash away one's sins from the previous year
and that it is a way to honour and remember one's dead ancestors
in line with the great respect typically afforded to the dead by
Buddhists. When attempting to cleanse themselves of their sins,
it is common for those floating Krathongs to place snips of hair
and nail cuttings alongside the candles and other offerings to symbolize
dead elements that should be set adrift. So if you see your girlfriend
giving her nails a quick snip down by the river before letting her
Krathong go. for once she may not simply be taking an opportunity
for a quick manicure. However, if she has a go at your hair, my
bet would be that she's been looking for an excuse to give you a
fresh "do" for a while.
As tends to happen with most festivals,
an awful lot of people either have no idea or simply don't care
what it is all about and are just out to have a good lime. And who's
to say there is anything wrong with that. Not me. that's for sure.
As someone who. for example, happily celebrates Christmas, but does
not go to church, nor think loo much, if at all. about the birth
of Jesus I am quite content to simply enjoy the atmosphere that
the time of year brings about. And when you consider that the current
perception of Santa Claus was actually an advertising creation of
the Coca-cola company in the early 20th century (hence the red and
white colours) and the fact that the traditional date on which Christmas
is celebrated actually relates back to a Pagan mid-winter festival
rather than anything else, it is quite clear that there- have always
been plenty of people quite happy to do the same. But a festival
is a festival is a festival and it means different things to different
people. So if you are just out to have a good time for Loy Krathong,
then you certainly won't be alone and, moreover, you will have plenty
of opportunity to do so. Parties, dinners, fireworks, light shows,
folk-dancing, floating lanterns and so on are all common-place.
Light and colour are key elements in the celebration.