Thailand cancels, reschedules flights ahead of lantern festival
People release sky lanterns ahead of the traditional Loi Krathong Festival Reuters

Loi Krathong is one of the biggest annual festivals in Thailand. It is celebrated every year on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. Therefore, the festival date changes every year according to the size of the moon.

According to the western calendar, the festival usually falls in the month of November and this year Loi Krathong will be celebrated on November 14.

The name of this festival can be translated "floating (Loi) basket (Krathong)", and it comes from the tradition of making krathong or buoyant, decorated baskets. These decorated baskets are then floated on a river.

The festival is also said to mark the end of the rainy season and give some respite to Thai people from the relentless downpour. Millions of people come together and celebrate this festival along with their family members. We at IBT Singapore will take you through the traditions of this Loi Krathong Festival.

1. The festival originated in the ancient city of Sukhothai

Loi Krathong Festival is believed to have originated from the ancient city of Sukhothai, located about five hours north of Bangkok, by a court lady named Nopphamat. It is said to be a Brahmanical festival which was later adapted by Thai Buddhists in Thailand to honor Buddha. The Buddhist monks would light candles and krathongs were floated.

2. Krathongs are most important part of the festival

Krathongs are usually hand made, with the bases typically made of a slice of the trunk of a banana tree or a loaf of bread. Those are decorated with banana leaves, flowers and incense sticks. The floating krathongs symbolise letting go of all one's hatred, anger, and defilements. Many people cut their fingernails or hair and place those on their krathongs. This is a symbol of letting go of past transgressions and negative thoughts.

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Krathongs, or floral floats decorated with incense and candles, are displayed for sale at a roadside stall in front of Golden Mile Complex in Singapore as part of annual celebrations for Loy Krathong Festival Reuters

3. Lighting sky lanterns

Lo Krathong festival coincides with the Lanna (northern Thai) festival which is known as Yi Peng. It refers to the full moon day of the second month according to the Lanna lunar calendar. Lighting and appreciating lanterns are the main activity of the festival. When the festival comes, lanterns of various shapes and sizes are seen everywhere attracting customers. These lanterns have artworks with traditional images.

Loi Krathong Festival: 5 things to know about Thai Lantern Festival
Buddhist monks light a "kom-loy" flying lantern at a temple in Chiang Mai during the annual Loy Krathong festival Reuters

4. Coins in krathongs

While floating their krathongs into the water bodies, many Thai people include coins in their krathongsas an offering to the river spirits as well as to Buddha. But, it is not known, that some people later dive into those water bodies to steal those coins after the celebration is over.

Loi Krathong Festival: 5 things to know about Thai Lantern Festival
A woman casts a krathong into a canal during the Loy Krathong festival in Nonthaburi province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, November 17, 2013. Believers float krathongs during the festival, which is held as a symbolic apology to the goddess of the river. Reuters

5. Nopphamat Queen Contests and other exciting things of this festival

During this festival, several beauty pageants are held throughout the country which is often known as Nopphamat Queen Contests. It is believed that Nang Nopphamat was a consort of the 13th century Sukhothai king Indraditya, also known as Phra Ruang. Nopphamat was the first to float a decorated raft. However, there is no evidence of the existence of Nang Nopphamat.

Apart from this, Thais wearing traditional Thai clothing and decorate their houses with lights, have delicious food and come together to celebrate together. Thailand looks extremely beautiful during this festival as the entire nation glitters with light and happiness. These pictures would surely add to your imagery of the Loi Krathong festival.

Loi Krathong Festival: 5 things to know about Thai Lantern Festival
Thai girls carry Krathongs as they attend a parade during the Loy Krathong festival in downtown Bangkok, November 25, 2015. Believers float krathongs with candles during the festival, which is held as a symbolic apology to the goddess of the river. Reuters
Loi Krathong Festival: 5 things to know about Thai Lantern Festival
Thai men pray before casting a krathong into a canal during the Loy Krathong festival in Nonthaburi province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, November 17, 2013. Believers float krathongs during the festival, which is held as a symbolic apology to the goddess of the river. Reuters
Loi Krathong Festival: 5 things to know about Thai Lantern Festival
A man prays before casting a krathong into a canal during the Loy Krathong festival in Nonthaburi province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, November 25, 2015. Believers float krathongs during the festival, which is held as a symbolic apology to the goddess of the river. Reuters
Loi Krathong Festival: 5 things to know about Thai Lantern Festival
People pray before casting krathongs into a pond at a public park during the Loy Krathong festival in Bangkok, Thailand, November 25, 2015. Believers float krathongs during the festival, which is held as a symbolic apology to the goddess of the river. Reuters
Loi Krathong Festival: 5 things to know about Thai Lantern Festival
A man carries a krathong into a Chao Phraya river during the Loy Krathong festival in Bangkok November 6, 2014. Believers float krathongs during the festival, which is held as a symbolic apology to the goddess of the river. Reuters
Loi Krathong Festival: 5 things to know about Thai Lantern Festival
A Buddha statue in Wat Mahathat is silhouetted by a full moon during the annual Loy Krathong festival in Thailand's Sukhothai Province on November 12, 2008. The Thai tradition of Loy Krathong started off in the ancient capital of Sukhothai and is now celebrated throughout Thailand. Festival goers release decorated banana-leaf krathongs onto ponds, lakes and rivers on the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar, honoring the Goddess of Water. Reuters