Lao Tradition, Thai Music, Thai Tradition

Loy Krathong

With the time change on Sunday night, I actually drive home in the dark now, and I saw a full moon tonight.  This made me think of Loy Krathong, I knew it was that time of the year and sure enough many places in Thailand celebrated their Loy Krathong over the weekend.

The Loy Krathong Festival takes place in all parts of Thailand, and in Laos, it is called Lai Heur Fai Nam, this takes place on the full moon night of the Twelfth Lunar Month. The Krathong or Heur Fai is made of banana leaves that contains flowers, candles and incense sticks, as well as some food and coins placed in there.

When I was little living in Thailand, I was told that Loy Krathong is a traditional Thai way of life, it is widely believed that these are offerings made to Mae Khongkha (mother of waters) either to please her in an expression of gratitude for providing life-sustaining water throughout the year, and to ask her for forgiveness for man’s carelessness in polluting the water that nourishes all life. Many also believe that by setting adrift the krathong, one symbolically casts away one’s grief, misery, and ill fortunes. Coins are also placed in the krathong as offerings. For the romantic at heart and young couples, Loy Krathong is the time to make wishes for happiness together and success in love.

The Lanna (Northern Thai people) use sky lanterns all year round for celebrations and other special occasions. And on Loy Kratong festival, lovers and partners gather on the riverbanks to float flowers and candles, launch fireworks and release sky lanterns together, also known as Khom Loy or Khom Fai. It is considered good luck to release a sky lantern, and many Thais believe they are symbolic of problems and worries floating away.

This year’s event, Loy Krathong Sukhothai.

More information on the Lanna celebration.

20 thoughts on “Loy Krathong”

  1. Lai Heur Fai Nam? That is a first to me. Is that what they are calling that in Laos now?
    I’ve always thought it was Loy Kratong and my family had always call it Boun Loy Kratong.

    1. Dallas, Lai Heur Fai Nam is what Lao people in Laos call it, and if the Wat is not near the water then they’d do Lai Heur Fai Bok (land). The Loy Kratong is Thai, and if that’s what you call it, then your family must have adopted many Thai words, part Thai perhaps. 🙂

  2. Missed it another year!!! Wanted to go to Wat but overslept… Did you make your own Krathong?

    In Thailand, kids will wait in the river where people put coins in the Krathong and Loy it, they will swim over and take the coins.

    1. eerenoon, I can’t get anyone to go to Wat with me late at night, and it’s 1 hour and a half drive for us, so no Loy Krathong for me. When I was little, I used to live in Khampang Phet and we made our own Krathong, that was fun.

  3. Nye, I still remember it vividly, the time my parents took me loy katrong when I was little. I had a chance to loy katrong in Luangprabang during my last trip back to Laos. It is one of the traditions that locals been practice for years, although I did it in middle of the day. I was actually swimming in the MeKong River and take my katrong little further out from shore. I also brought some birds and fishes from the morning market, then I set them free.

    1. seeharhed, I don’t have much memory of Laos, but when we were little in Thailand, we’d make our own Krathong, my sisters and I would go out to look for materials, and most of the time we ended up using banana tree, banana leaves, lotus flowers from the nearby Krong, or any other types of flower that we could find that day, a lot of Dork Huk in the area. Then we’d work on it all day, and by evening time we’d go to Wat to Loy Krathong, sometimes it would be too heavy and it wouldn’t float, lots of hard work just sinking.

      I used the term Loy Krathong because I grew up in Thailand, and only read Thai materials all my life, but last year when I was blogging about Loy Krathong and saw that Lao people from Laos called it Lai Heur Fai Nam (water) or Lai Heur Fai Bok (land) and the Krathong is called Heur Fai in Lao. From seeing Dallas’s comment, he also calls it Loy Krathong, made me think that we’re using the Thai term instead of Lao term for Loy Krathong, and now I noticed you also use the term Loy Krathong also. Is that the way your family and Lao people that you know say it? and have you ever heard the term Lai Heur Fai Nam before?

      1. To me the words “Heur Fai” is the actual long boat that they parade around the temple. The “Krathong or Kathong ” is the banana weaved basket adorned with flower and other things that we lit with a candle and has offering that we let it float down the river to carry away the sin of the donor. A dictionary that was compiled 50 years ago list the word Kathong with the same meaning as I had described. Why does Lao people in Muang Lao call the basket Heur Fai and not Kathong is puzzling to me. I don’t think Lao in the U.S. adopt the name “Loy Kathong” to referer to this festival. IMO, we had always refer to it by that name. It is like that 100 years ago and still it is today. Did Lao in Muang Lao adopted a new name for this festival? It is possible.

        1. Dallas, I don’t think it’s a new name, my two older sisters called it Boun Lai Heur Fai when they were in Laos, and I think they’ve been calling it Heur Fai all these years. As for me, I never paid any attention because the only celebration that I knew of during this time of the year was Loy Krathong.

          According to Laos Holidays list, this is done during October,

          Awk Phansaa (Awk Watsa, full moon): This celebrates the end of the three-month rains retreat. Monks are allowed to leave the monasteries to travel and are presented with robes, alms bowls and other requisites of the renunciative life. On the eve of Awk Phansaa many people fashion small banana-leaf boats carrying candles, incense and other offerings, and float them in rivers, a custom know as Lai Hua Fai, similar to Loy Krathong in Thailand.

          I’ve come to a conclusion that Lao don’t have Loy Krathong, but Lai Heur Fai instead, but many Lao people call it Loy Krathong, and this made me wonder if it were just Lao Nork that call it this way, Lao Nai might call it Lai Heur Fai all these years.

          This made me think of the dragon boat race and Boun Souang Heua, two different events and history, but similar race in a way that some Lao people in the US called it the Dragon boat race, and Lao people in Laos called it Souang Heua.

      2. Nye, as far as I know.. I’ve always heard my parents said, “loy ka thong” and majority of people in Vientiane said it also. I might be wrong but let me do some research, I’ll let you know if I find anything.

        1. Thanks seeharhed, I think the term Loy Krathong or Kathong is a household name for Lao and Thai people now. My local Wat has a Loy Krathong event, but the abbot of the Wat is Thai from Surin so I can see as to why he called it Loy Krathong.

    1. Hi Scott, you’re welcome, it’s very different. When I first came to the US, it was during Christmas time and people had their Christmas trees lit inside their home, I thought it was the oddest thing, but not anymore. 🙂

  4. Hi Nye,
    That is such a beautiful tradition and event.

    I can see there is much meaning in it. It would be nice to be part of “Loy Krathong” too.

    1. Cambree, I think the event is more popular in Thailand than in Laos, and this ceremony was performed for thousands of years and it was the original ceremony of Brahmanism to worship the god and floating the Krathong, and it was symbolically to drive away the sin or the bad luck. Then many Buddhist countries adopted this tradition as well.

    1. lady0fdarkness, sounds I fun, do take lots of photo to share. I’ll miss mine at the temple, I’m not even sure which day because I think they printed the wrong date on the Wat calendar.

  5. i did make a wish at the Loy Krathong website even when i dont believe in wishes 😀
    i do respect cultures and religions believe a lot… they don’t have to be mine.

    1. shadow, I like learning about different cultures and blogging allows me to do that, a little something for all of us to share. 🙂

  6. I’ve had a bad bad month thus far, I should be releasing soem loy krathong as well? I was hoping to find information on thai and laos event, but neither of my laos friend knows any Thai or Laos festival around this area at all.

    1. mozemoua, it’s only a belief, but in your case, try to think only of the positive things and your life will be better, I believed that if we think negative, then we’ll attract the negative things into our life. I hope that the worse is over for you.

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