Freitag, 7. November 2014

Loi Krathong Festival in Bangkok 2014

Zur deutschen Version

Loi Krathong

The popular Loi Krathong festival takes place on the full moon in the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar (usually in November) and traditionally marks the end of the rainy season.
Loi means "to float" and the best translation for Krathong is perhaps "basket". Traditionally the baskets are made from banana leaves or the leaves of the spider lilly. Also very popular are baskets made from bread, which dissolves in the water and can be eaten by the fish living near the river temples.
Disgustingly ugly are Krathongs made of styrofoam or plastic, which can be bought in many supermarkets. Because those plastic baskets pollute the rivers and klongs, and block the lockages of the canals they are already banned in many areas.
After sunset people walk to the Chao Praya river, the nearest klongs (canals), ponds or (nowadays even) swimming pools and float their Krathongs. The "baskets" often contain a flower, a candle (which represents Lord Buddha), three incense sticks and sometimes a small coin as an offering to water goddess Phra Mae Kongkha or the river/klong spirits.
Also many people place a wisp of hair or clippings of their fingernails on the Krathongs, symbolizing all the bad feelings, fears and sins of the last year and let them drift away with the basket.
When the people float their Krathongs they often make a wish at the same time, and many people believe, if the candle is still burning when the basket is drifting out of sight their wish will come true. 
After the floating of the Krathongs, artists perform (traditional) Thai folk dances, and a beauty contest will take place (explanation see below). More and more often the celebrations are accompanied by fireworks.
Finally the evening ends up in a big party with music, dancing, lots of food and (sadly) for some people with lots of alcohol.

A brief history of the Loi Krathong festival:

Romantic version:
The Loy Krathong festival dates back to the time of the Sukhothai Kingdom, about 700 years ago. It marked the end of the rainy season and the main rice harvest. It is based on a Hindu tradition of thanking the water god for the waters. The farmers of Sukhothai used to hold a festival of floating candles. One year, a beautiful woman called Noppamas, who was the chief royal consort, made some special lanterns for the festival. She made them from banana leaves and shaped them like lotus flowers. The king was impressed with what he saw, so he announced that krathongs would be floated on the water every year from then on. Today, the memory of that woman who made the first krathong is remembered in a beauty contest called "The Noppamas Queen Contest".

Historic version:
According to H.M. King Rama IV, writing in 1863, it was a Brahmanical festival that was adapted by Thai Buddhists in Thailand to honor Buddha, Prince Siddhartha Gautama. The candle venerates the Buddha with light, while the krathong's floating symbolizes letting go of all one's hatred, anger, and defilements.

Loi Krathong 2014 in Bangkok at Rama III

After many years I decided to join the Loi Krathong celebrations again. And honestly, I was a little bit disappointed. Loi Krathong has changed. When I visited the festivities the last time (about six years ago) at Wat Dan at Rama III, the mood was completely different. 
This year there were (at Wat Dan and Wat Pariwat) no merry-go-rounds, no Ferris wheels (ok, they were mostly just about three meters high and with just six to eight gondolas, but the children loved it), no Aunt Sally or other fairground stalls for the children. They didn't decorate the temple buildings with holiday lights, which had always looked so beautiful and created  a special atmosphere. I also missed the classical Thai dancing and the beauty contest. Instead they staged a singing contest for small children and teenagers at Wat Dan. But the biggest and most annoying change of all was that most people were shooting "selfies" all the time. Most people spent about 10 minutes at the river bank: nine minutes for shooting selfies or posing in front of a friend´s smartphone cam and one minute for prayers and floating the Krathong.
But there were improvements too! I didn't see any plastic or styrofoam "baskets", and no one was selling alcohol which really was a change for the better. 

At Wat Dan the best selling Krathongs were coconut shells with a yellow candle and a symbolic coin inside. At Wat Pariwat they only sold Krathongs made of banana leafes, but each "basket" was provided with a sheet of paper with a little prayer on it.

Coconut Krathongs

A monk crafts a coconut Krathong.
Click on the pictures to enlarge them

But three things didn't change at all. First of all, you shouldn't be afraid of large crowds. Secondly, it's still a very noisy event with lots of hawkers, food and drinks and thirdly, the traffic is still completely collapsing around the temple areas.

But there are alternatives to these noisy locations! At the little park under the Bhumibol 2 bridge at Rama III there was just a small group of people celebrating the Loi Krathong festival. It was very relaxed and peaceful. No loud music, no loudspeaker-announcements by monks asking to buy krathongs or to make donations, no hawkers, no shoving and pushing and no "selfie"-marathon. There were just people praying, floating their Krathongs and enjoying a peaceful evening.

(once) popular Loi Krathong Songs:

(This year I didn't hear any of them)

November full moon shines, 
Loy Krathong, Loy Krathong, 

and the water's high in the river and local klong, 

Loy Loy Krathong, Loy Loy Krathong, 

Loy Krathong is here and everybody's full of cheer, 
We're together at the klong, 
Each one with his krathong, 
As we push away we pray, 
We can see a better day.

วันเพ็ญเดือนสิบสอง น้ำนองเต็มตลิ่ง
Wan-pen duean sìp-sŏng , náam nong dtem dtà-lìng
The full-moon day (of) the twelfth month, as water fills (or spills on?) to the (river) banks
(Am) Vollmond des zwölften Monats (Mondkalender), wenn das Wasser and die Ufer schwappt,

เราทั้งหลายชายหญิง สนุกกันจริง วันลอยกระทง
Rao tang-lăai chaai yĭng sà-nuk gan jing wan loi grà-tong
We all both men and women are having fun on Loi Krathong day
haben wir alle (beide), Männer und Frauen, Freude am Loi Krathong(-tag)

ลอย ลอยกระทง ลอย ลอยกระทง
loi loi grà-tong, loi loi grà-tong
float float the Krathongs, float float the Krathongs
schwimmen, lasst die Krathongs schwimmen, schwimmen, lasst die Krathongs schwimmen, 

ลอยกระทงกันแล้ว ขอเชิญน้องแก้วออกมารำวง
loi grà-tong gan láew,kŏr chern nóng gâew òrk maa ram-wong
We have already floated the Krathong, I would like to ask you (beloved young lady) to come out and dance (Thai folk dance)
Nun, nachdem wir unsere Krathongs schwimmen ließen, möchte ich dich (geliebte junge Frau) bitten, herauszukommen und zu tanzen (einen thailändischen Volkstanz)

รำวงวันลอยกระทง รำวงวันลอยกระทง
ram-wong wan loi grà-tong, ram-wong wan loi grà-tong
dance in the Loi Krathong day, dance in the Loi Krathong day
tanze den Loi Krathong-Tanz, tanze den Loi Krathong-Tanz

บุญจะส่งให้เราสุขใจ บุญจะส่งให้เราสุขใจ
bun jà sòng hâi rao sùk-jai
making merit will give us happiness
Gutes tun wird uns Glück bescheren

English translation by:

Loi Krathong Photo Series


Banana leaf Krathong

Krathongs made of bread.

The coconut Krathong with a symbolic coin.

At the Chao Praya river

Fun fair and prayers

Wat Pariwat

Wat Pariwat

"Hair offering"


Donating money.

Singing contest.

Other photo series on (Thai-) festivals:

Chinese New Year 2013
Songkran 2013
Royal Birthday Celebrations 2012

Keine Kommentare:

Kommentar veröffentlichen