Some facts about Loi Krathong.
The origin of Loi Krathong involves at least 7 legends. Most of them stem from Buddhism. The most popular ones are to show respect to the footprint of the Lord Buddha on the sandy beach of the Narmaha River in India, as well as to the great Serpent and dwellers of the underwater world, after the Lord Buddha’s visit to their watery realm. Others believe that the floral krathong is offered to the pagoda (Phra Ged Kaew Ju La Mane) containing the Lord Buddha’s topknot, which was cut off at his self-ordination and is now in heaven.
The festival runs over three days: fireworks, processions and thousands and thousands of lanterns. The main area of celebrations in Chiang Mai is around the Mae Ping River, especially the Nawarat and Iron Bridge. There are crowds of Thais, young and old and a great party atmosphere. It’s not a place to be if you don’t like fireworks, they are easily available and are literally exploding all around you.
Sky Lanterns – Khom Loy / Khom Fai
The Khom Loy, also known as Khom Fai, is a cylinder of paper about one meter high, braced with wire or bamboo circles. Suspended from the bottom of the cylinder is a tray containing cotton soaked in kerosene. Fireworks and firecrackers are also often attached to the tray. These catch fire and explode after the balloon is launched. Once the cotton is lit it takes about a minute for the air inside the cylinder to heat up enough to lift the balloon into the air.
It is believed that launching one of these balloons can send a person’s bad luck and misfortune away into the air, especially if it disappears from view before the fire goes out. Often people will say a short prayer before launching the balloon.