November 6, 2014

Loi Krathong Festival

Loi Krathong is a festival celebrated annually throughout Thailand and certain parts of Laos and Burma. The name could be translated as "to float a basket", and comes from the tradition of making krathong or buoyant, decorated baskets, which are then floated on a river.

On the night of the full moon, Thais launch their krathong on a river, canal or a pond (or in a bucket of water if they are stuck at home), making a wish as they do so. The festival may originate from an ancient ritual paying respect to the water spirits. It was then adapted by Thai Buddhists in Thailand to honor Buddha. The candle pays respect to the Buddha with light, while the krathong's floating symbolizes letting go of all one's hatred and anger. People sometime cut their fingernails or hair and place the clippings on the krathong as a symbol of letting go of past wrong doing and negative thoughts.

Government offices, corporations and other organizations launch large decorated krathongs. There are competitions for the best such krathong. A beauty contest is a regular feature and fireworks have become common in recent years.

I was invited to attend the evening festivities as a judge for the krathong competition.

During the day, there are a lot of water sports.
Canoe races - the guy in front can't speak
and the guy in the back is blindfolded. Hilarious!

Then there is Thai boxing on a pole.

I was one of the krathong judges and here is the winner.
They were judges on time (to construct), size (bigger is better), 
beauty, design, and can they still float.

The Nayok officially opening the festivities. Yes, that's me up there.

 A lot of my students (3rd grade to 6th grade)
doing a dance routine as the opening act.

And here are this years hopefuls for Miss Ban Nong Weang.

This is Nan, my 16-year-old neighbor

More singing and dancing.
Can you figure out which dancer is a guy?

There there is comedy.

The Nayok congratulating all the girls.
Nan didn't win but I'm still proud of her.

Not a great picture but here I am with Nan.