This post might be late for Lai Heur Fai Nam, but early for Loy Krathong Festival.
I left Laos when I was only 6 year old and I can’t recall if I ever get a chance to Lai Heur Fai Nam but I think I would have since we lived near the Mekong river in Mueng Kao near Pakse. I recalled walking down the the dirt road to the Mekong river in the evening, but of course my childhood memory in Laos is fuzzy and fading. I grew up in Thailand and my memory living there is not much better when it comes to recalling certain event. It’s almost like a dream to me now and the Loy krathong event was a big thing for us back then. I recalled that we had to make our own krathong (a small raft), including gathering the materials and flowers for the decoration.
Laos recently celebrated Lai Heur Fai Nam, this event takes place right after the End of Buddhist Lent (the three-month rains retreat or Ok Punsa), and during Thot Kathin ceremony. The event was so closed together with Loy Krathong that I wasn’t aware that they were two different events until several years back when I was blogging about Loy Krathong Festival. Below are photos from Lao Rock Photo of Lai Heur Fai Nam in Vientiane, Laos. I really appreciate him letting me use his photos because the chance of me witnessing this in the U.S. is very slim and he has captured the event so well.
Going into the water is not a part of the tradition of Lai Heur Fai Nam or Loy Krathong by the way, but I see his krathong needed a little help.
As I had mentioned in my previous Loy Krathong post that 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. As for the romantic at heart and young couples, Loy Krathong is the time to make wishes for happiness together and success in love.
Fireworks and release of Sky lantern, also known as Khom Loy or Khom Fai is a tradition that is practiced by both the Thais and Lao people. It is considered good luck to release a sky lantern and many believe that they are symbolic of problems and worries floating away.
Loy Krathong Festival is going to be during the next full moon, which is November 21, 2010.