The end of the rainy season is logically a cause for celebration. If everything has gone as it should, the harvest will be good and the future prosperous … sufficient reason, therefore, to give thanks to Nature and to those who intervene in atmospheric phenomena.
Each culture and religion does so in its own way.
Here in Thailand, that happens at Loi Krathong.
The festival is celebrated throughout Thailand during the full moon of November, although some cities are especially famous like Chiang Mai and Sukhothai, where the celebrations are absolutely magnificent.
The first one is the favourite for international travellers, whereas Sukhothai has a greater influx of local public, of Thais.
It started by combining various ceremonies – a festival in honour of Hindu deities of Brahman origin and a Buddhist celebration in which merits are earned.
In two simultaneous rituals, sky lanterns are released and candles, called ‘krathongs‘ or floating crowns, are thrown into the river.
If the perfect or near-perfect festivity actually exists, this is it.
Parents participate with their children, as do young lovers, groups of friends, foreigners mingling with locals and it takes place right across the city so there is plenty of room.
As Buddhism is mixed with Animist beliefs and Brahma worship, those of us from abroad have two options to choose from when releasing sky lanterns and launching tiny rafts bearing candles.
The first choice is in honour of the Buddha, who taught us the Dharma, and here we can release into the sky or down the river the heavy burden of our attachment to mundane material things and our ego that always end up causing us grief.
We rid ourselves of what hurts us and dream about a hopeful future.
Children may think of letting the lantern take away all that is not good, that hurts their friends, their family, and themselves.
The second choice is to show our respects to the gods who control the forces of nature and the spirits of water and of heaven – Indra and the Nagas.
We thank them for the monsoon rains that fertilize the land of the Thais and, in exchange for our offering, we ask them to free us of all those things that worry us, so that only good things come to us.
Kids can thank Mother Earth for the good things that happen to them and imagine what they want the world to be like to make it better for everyone.