The Festival of Loy Kratong on Koh Chang
The Thai festival of Loy Kratong is celebrated on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month every year. In 2015 the festival falls on November 25th. People all over the country prepare elaborately decorated kratongs. These are small banana tree platforms decorated with banana and coconut leaves and flowers and containing a combination of food, nuts, incense sticks, coins and a lighted candle. These kratongs are floated – ‘Loy’ means float in Thai – on pretty much any body of water that comes to hand.
The festival originates from Sukhothai, Thailand’s original capital, in the 13th Century. Nang Nopamas, a royal consort of King Ramkhamhaeng (the founder of Sukhothai), is said to have made the first kratong and set it adrift so that it would float past the king. The king was delighted with the creation and Loy Kratong was instituted as an annual festival. For this reason Loy Kratong on Koh Chang is a romantic evening and couples make wishes as they launch their kratongs. A kratong that floats a long way with a lit candle is seen as a good omen for relationships. If it sinks then people just shrug their shoulders and wait for the next year.
Loy Kratong has several religious interpretations. The kratong is seen by some as an offering in thanks to ‘Phra Mae Kongka’ the goddess of water for a plentiful supply of water. Others find Buddhist interpretations of the festival, the kratong being a tribute of respect to Lord Buddha or a means of paying respect to one’s ancestors. The festival may have originated as a Hindu festival paying homage to the god Vishnu.
Whatever its origin it is an atmospheric occasion and you will be made welcome to participate Loy Kratong on Koh Chang. Kratong materials will be available all over the island and the locals will be happy to assist in showing you how to assemble your kratong.