On the night of full moon in November, people gather together around the rivers, lakes, and ponds across Thailand to release lotus shaped rafts adorned with candles, incense, and flowers. Thought to be one of the most picturesque festivals in Bangkok, the night of Loy Krathong brings the sight of thousands of flickering candles bobbing up and down in the river far over the horizon.

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For centuries, people have gathered on this day of the twelfth lunar month to mark the end of the rainy season. Although the celebration takes place nationwide- In some provinces such as Chiang Mai, the festival coincides with Yi Peng, a Lanna festival which calls people to release paper lanterns up into the sky. The idea behind the festival is to float away bad luck to make room for positive blessings and good luck. People sometimes place an old fingernail or strand of hair as a symbol of letting go of past transgressions and negative thoughts.

An important part of this celebration is to give thanks for a fruitful rainy season that has nourished the rice grains and allowed for a productive harvest season. The ceremonial releasing of these rafts serves as an offering of gratitude- a symbol of appreciation for the rains.
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Handmade krathongs are traditionally made from a banana tree trunk’s cross-section. Flowers and banana leaves are then used to create intricate designs beautiful kratongs. The idea is for the crating to flat down the river and be eaten by fish, and so many Krathongs today are also made from bread. More recently however, krathongs are being crafted from modified plastic and styrofoam. This year, our government has encourage celebrants to utilise rafts made from biodegradable materials for their krathongs, after environmental concerns for non-biodegradable components clogging rivers and drains.

This year festivities remained low key, out of respect for the late monarch. While excessive celebrations have been discouraged, this year’s Loy Krathong will focus more on showcasing Thai culture.