Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Loi Krathong

Just got back from dinner at a really great restaurant on the river that goes through Bangkok - the Chao Phraya - across from one of the most famous temples in the city - Wat Arun. Wat Arun is on all of the 10 baht coins.

Tonight was the night to have dinner on the river because it is the full moon of the 12th month of the Thai calendar - which means it's Loi Krathong.

I'm not about to do justice explaining the holiday, but "Loi" means "to float" and a "Krathong" is a small (6-12 inches across?) floating circle made out of banana leaves and flowers.

You put candles and incense in the Krathong, and then float it down the river. The Krathong is supposed to represent your anger/ bad things - and so you also cut off some fingernails and add some of your hair to the Krathong before shipping it off so that you're physically sending off something of yourself.

Along the river there were also bus-sized barges that were decorated with all sorts of lights and had music going -- kind of like a veryvery toned down Mardi Gras on a river with no beads or booze -- but very festive and surprising/ pretty to see.

At school today they kept coming in and pulling out girls to go and work on their classes' Krathong, and then some of the girls walked down to the khlong (canal) at the end of the school's road to set them down the river.

I was also told by one of the teacher's that the Krathong are an apology to the river god for pollution (there's a strong Hindu influence somewhere in this holiday) -- but since some people use styrofoam to make theirs it might not be the river god's favorite offering?

So here's Wat Arun with a passing barge, some Krathongs, and then me getting help lowering my Krathong into the river:

Please feel free to fact-check/ correct me!

Love to you all!

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