Loy Krathong (or Loi Kratong) is one of the most important Thai festivals. You could call it the festival of lights. The festival falls on the full moon of the 12th lunar month, which is usually in November. This festival is performed to reduce bad luck and to apologize to the river goddess. More on the backgrounds of the festival tomorrow.

“Loy” means “to float” and a “Krathong” is a lotus-shaped “boat” made of banana leaves. The Krathong usually contains a candle, three incense sticks, some flowers, hair and a 1-baht coin.

So the Krathong is in the center of the action. Where do you get it from? In fact, it is really easy to get a Krathong. Virtually everywhere vendors will sell ready-made Krathongs, especially near water. They are available in various sizes, shapes and colours and actually look quite nice. The downside of these pre-fabricated Krathongs is that they use styrofoam for floatation. So in the days following Loy Krathong, tens of thousands of pieces of styrofoam litters the canals, ponds and rivers of Thailand. And they would stay there forever, if the authorities didn’t send our hundreds of staff to collect the litter.

In my view, the natural Krathongs are much better, but you can’t buy them on the street. (If I’m wrong, please correct me and tell me where to buy them.) So I choose to buy the natural materials and build the thing myself.

Here’s what you need for a Krathong:

  • 1 slice of banana tree trunk
  • folded banana leaves (you can buy them ready-made)
  • 1 or 2 flower garlands
  • flowers of different sizes and colours
  • other decorative elements (optional)
  • 3 incense sticks
  • 1 candle
  • 1 1-baht coin
  • nails

Step 1:

Attach the folded banana leaves to the banana tree trunk. This will be the base of the Krathong.
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Step 2:

Place the flower garlands inside the Krathong. Leave a coin under the decoration in the center of the Krathong.
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Step 3:

Add more flowers as decoration around the Krathong. You can also add other decorative elements, as in the photo on the right. Place the candle and the incense sticks in the center of the Krathong.
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Step 4:

Finally, test the balance of the Krathong when floating. If it is not balanced, it will capsize.PB155278PB155279

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Ready to go!

Links

Ralf Kircher about Loy Krathong