Have you ever seen sparkling lanterns floating in the night sky?
If you have, you’ve probably seen them somewhere like Thailand, China, Taiwan, Brazil, or Portugal, right?
One of the best things about the Thai festival Loi Krathong has got to be the magical sight of countless twinkling lanterns wandering up into the darkness.
The most popular of all the Loi Krathong festivals in Thailand is Yee Peng, held in Chiang Mai. It is a lively event full of light and sound held in a historical park at the World Heritage site of Sukhothai.
In Chiang Mai, which is in northern Thailand, Loi Krathong festivals are held on the night of the full moon during the twelfth lunar month of the year—which typically falls in October or November.
The Chiang Mai people call Loi Krathong “Yee Peng” in their local dialect (Lan Na). The yee in Yee Peng is the word for the twelfth month in Lan Na, and peng means “full moon”.
This year’s Yee Peng festival will take place on November 8, 2022.
During the festival, banana and palm leaves are hung around the entrances of temples in Chiang Mai, along with tons of brightly-colored flowers, the Lan Na flag (called a toong), lanterns, and other magnificent decorations. Once night falls, people light lots of candles in front of their homes, float lanterns made from banana trees in the river, and float khom loy lanterns up into the night sky. Lively, spectacular parades make their way through Chiang Mai starting in the evening, and there are beauty contests as well.
So why do they float lanterns in the river?
It actually comes from an ancient Hindu tradition where people express gratitude and remorse to the river goddess Ganga. The lanterns communicate both thanks for all that the water provides and an apology for dirtying the river.
Loy means “to float in the river,” and krathong is the word for “lantern.” Banana trees and flowers are used for parts of the krathong to express gratitude and remorse, while incense and lit candles are placed on the lantern as it floats down the river. More recently, some people have begun making lanterns out of paper that dissolves in water, ice, and bread that the fish can eat out of concern for the environment.
The khom loy festival is so famous that it was said to be the inspiration for the movie Tangled.
I’m sure a lot of you can’t wait to go see the countless khom loy lanterns floating in the sky now, right?
According to one legend, people believe that releasing lanterns into the sky with gratitude and respect to the Buddha will bring good luck and help them avoid misfortune.
People gather from all over the world around this time each year, so there are several places where you can release the khom loy . At the venues, you can enjoy century-old Lan Na style markets, delicious Thai cuisine, and Chiang Mai dancing.
The main khom loy event starts with the powerful chanting of sutras by monks. This is followed by a spectacular release of some 6,000–12,000 lanterns into the sky at once! It’s so magical you feel like you’re in a dream.
The festival has recently been popularized around the world thanks to social media outlets like Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. The fact that it draws YouTubers from around the world to film the beautiful images is one reason the number of participants has increased.
This year’s Yee Peng festival is scheduled for Tuesday, November 8 and Wednesday, November 9.
It’s the first time the festival has been held in two years, so people are really getting excited!
It only happens once a year, so please make your way to Chiang Mai if you want to join this wonderful experience.