I used to think that only God could put stars in the sky, and then I came to Thailand.
This past week was the Thai celebration Loi Krathong and I have to admit it was one of the most spectacular sites I’ve seen. The celebration falls on the full moon in the month of November, but in Thailand they celebrate all week. I couldn’t make it to all of the festivals that were going on, but there were many and as each night moved closer to the full moon more lanterns were released into the sky, and more fireworks were being set off. Loi Krathong means “floating flowers.” During the full moon people release decorative boats into the river in order to honor the river goddess and atone for bad things that may have been done throughout the year.
The boats are called Krathongs and they are made from banana leaves. Each one is decorated a bit differently, but they all contain the same components. People place, candles, and incense in the Krathong and then they light it and release it on the river at night. Most people tend to send lanterns into the sky as well because in Thailand lanterns are always released as a form of celebration. People also tie fireworks to the lanterns as tails and as they float into the air a trail of sparks are left behind.
Although there are organized firework shows that go on during the festival, many people set off their own fireworks. This can be very dangerous. I have to admit that my nerves were unruly as I walked by the river side because fireworks were being shot into the air all around me. I kept jumping and ducking and it was hard to control my heartbeat as it pounded. The one night before Loi Krathong I was driving through the city with a friend of mine and someone set off a firework that hit an electric telephone wire. There was a huge spark and then for about thirty seconds the lights went out. Luckily I was in the car, but I kept thinking how unsafe it was to allow just any and every one to set off fireworks all around the city, but during my time in Thailand I have realized that many things Thais do are considered dangerous to me.
Even though I spent my whole night jumping and running behind trees, I found it to be one of the most beautiful nights I’ve ever seen. The river was right under a bridge that was decorated in tons of lights, the lanterns were not only replacing the stars but adding to them, and the river was glowing as my friends and I pushed our Krathongs into the water to float away. The city was on fire. It was as if I was stuck inside of a light bulb with all of Thailand and I didn’t want to go back into the dark ever again.
The only bad thing about that night was that once my Krathong was lit it began to fall apart and one of the incense fell out and burned me. I noticed that some others were having the same problem. We were trying to get them into the river quickly, but there were so many people at the riverside that were trying to set their Krathongs free as well. We had to wait our turn.
Although there were so many people out and one girl shot a firework in the wrong direction and it almost hit me, I thought it was a magical night and worth all the anxiety I experienced. I would recommend that anyone planning to visit Chiang Mai should come during this festival and witness the way the light illuminates everything, even the pupils of every set of eyes staring up into the air.