Floating Your Love Boat in Loy Krathong Festival
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Definitely the most romantic of the Thai festivals, the popular Loy Kratong Festival is a must-experience for those dwelling or visiting the land of smiles. Held on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month, Loy Kratong always falls in November, and on this year it will be on the 12th of the month.
Originating as a Brahmanical festival adopted by Thai Buddhists during the reign of Rama IV in1863, Loy Kratong is a ceremony that venerates the Lord Buddha by offering floating trays laden with flowers, candles and incense. Loy translates to "float" in Thai, while Kratong pertains to a tray made from banana leaves. The light from the candle honors Lord Buddha, while the act of floating symbolizes the release of anger, resentment or any tarnishing of one's character. It is a way for a person to make amends and start afresh.
In addition to this, most Thais also float their kratong to honor the goddess of the rivers and waterways, Mae Nam, who they believe will bring good luck. This ties in with the romantic element of Loy Kratong which stems from a legend about Nang Nopamas, who was a royal consort to King Ramkhamhaeng (founder of Sukhothai).
According to legend, Nopamas made the original Loy Kratong to appeasen Mae Nam, and set it afloat in the palace canals so that it would pass by her lover, the King. The King was enchanted by this creation and by Nang Nopamas forever after, hence the belief that if two lovers set a kratong into a waterway and it stays afloat until it has left sight, their love will last forever.
Celebrations abound across Thailand during Loy Kratong, especially in Sukhothai, Chiang Mai and along Bangkok's Chao Phyra river. Beauty queen contests also run concurrently with the festival called "Nopamas Queens Contests" adding more color to the mix of activities.