On the first full moon of November, northern Thailand shines brightly. I was lucky enough to be here during the country’s Festivals of Lights otherwise known as Loy Krathong or in Chiang Mai, Yee Peng. It is one of the most incredible festivals I’ve ever seen.
I first saw the preparations in the small town of Pai, where people were preparing the Krathong, beautiful floating candles made out of slices of a banana tree trunk, folded leaves and flowers. I was told that you must light the candle and send your Krathong down river. It is believed that any misfortune or bad luck will float down the river and you’ll be left with good luck. I was also told that the longer the float or the longer your candle is lit the better luck you will have (My Krathong floated downstream as far as I could see!)
At the same time flowers & candles are floating down rivers by the thousands, the sky is also all aglow! Khom Loy or glowing paper lanterns are released all around me. A small fire at the base or bottom of the lantern is lit and as the heat rises it floats into the air like a hot air balloon. Similar to Krathong, with Khom Loy it is believed that bad luck floats away into the air. It is magical.
Just when I think the festival is nearly over, my attention is caught by another glow outside of a Buddhist temple on the final night. Peeking inside, I can’t believe the sight, hundreds of candles! The young monks gather inside the temple, carrying flowers and preparing for a ceremony. Loy Krathong truly is full of light.