Lao Tradition, Laos, Memory Lane, Thai Tradition, Thailand

Lai Heur Fai Nam and Loy Krathong Festival

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.

21 thoughts on “Lai Heur Fai Nam and Loy Krathong Festival”

  1. That’s pretty cool. Iremember very litle about this festival but it is very festive occasion I would not miss when in laos or Thailand. I has a chance to released the lantar at Chai Mai that’s was the highlight of my trip. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Salalao, I missed the festival while I was there in 2008. I did post about Khom Loy in Chai Mai last year and it’s called Yee Peng Lanna Festival. It’s really a sight to see so many Khom Fai in the sky.

  2. Nice photos by Lao Rock!!! I like the first picture with Don Chan Hotel on the background.

    I miss Laos :-). As a kid growing up in Vientiane, our parents would take us out “loy ka throng” every year. We would always end the night with a dinner at a noodle house next to Bua Savanh Theater.

    1. seeharhed, I like the picture of Don Chan Hotel in the background also.

      Do you remember if you Lai Heur Fai at the end of the Buddhist lent (which they also have the Lao long boat race) or Loy Kathrong in Lao December? I often wonder when Lao people talk about Loy Kathrong, which event they’re referring to or if they participated in both events. That would be too close together though.

      1. Nye, it is all on the same weekend. It is usually land on 3rd weekend of Lao November. Which meant it falls on American October, if that makes any sense at all. The boat race usually take place during the day time and during the night would be loy kathrong.

        1. seeharhed, as I thought. The Lao celebrated the month before the Thai Loy Krathong which is on Thai December full moon.

          I think the Lao long boat race (Boun Souang Heua) and the Lai Heur Fai Nam are all related to thot Kathin ceremony where back then people used to travel by water and the long boat were used for transporting the Kathin to Wat and afterward the Long boat of each temple would race and the tradition carries on as part of the Thot Kathin tradition.

  3. One day I want to be present for Loy Kathrong. I think it’s just a beautiful and significant event. My friends posted a few photos from their kathrong making party a few weeks ago so I got to victoriously be a part of it.

    I’ve never seen the sky lanterns. It must be incredible when they are all released at once. Thanks for sharing some photos and knowledge.

    1. Hi SJ, you are welcome, I couldn’t take the credit for the photos though. 🙂

      I think if you plan your trip right, you could be there for Ok Punsa, Lai Heur Fai Nom, Lao long boat race (Boun Souang Heua), Thot Krathin and Boun That Luang. It would be nice to live in Laos for a year to see all the events.

      1. I would love to be there during all those festivals, since I haven’t been there during that time. Plus, I hear the weather is wonderful and it’s still not high season so it’s not packed with tourists. I really enjoyed celebrating Pi Mai there in 2007 and I really had a great time during the rainy season this summer. There is nothing like Pi Mai in Laos.

        1. Hi Sao Joy, I was there in November and the weather was nice, not a day of rain for us. If I ever get a chance to go again it would be during the month of Oct-November and at least this time I know where my cousins live.

          1. Your family is in the Paksun area, right? It’s not too far from VTE and quite easy to get to. My trip to Savah on the early bus took way too long. I might have to re-consider a night ride home next time.

            1. Hi Sao Joy, they are in Paksun and my dad and I took the bus to VTE by ourselves before, then connected to another bus to Talat Sao. It wasn’t a very long ride. We also took the bus to Pakse during the day time and it was horrible. I think the night ride would be better also.

  4. That is a beautiful and peaceful event.

    Is the Krathong the container made of banana leaves with flowers and candles? I like that it’s all biodegradable too. 😉

    1. Cambree, when we were little we used the banana stalk as the base of the krathong and the leaves for the petals. We decorated the inside and petals with flowers, and lit candles when sail. The fun part was making the krathong and ours were biodegradable. 🙂

    1. Mozemoua, I think you would really like it, it’s a beautiful event. I think the only temple in the US that would have one close to back home would be in VA since they have a huge lily pond.

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