One of the most beautiful festivals celebrated in Thailand is that of Loy Krathong.
It falls on the November full moon night.
Loy means float and Krathong leaf bowl or wreath.
All over Thailand people make these wonderfully decorated floats out of folded banana leaves and artistically arranged jasmine,orchids and chrysanthemum flowers. Candles and sticks of incense are placed in them as well as a few coins as offering to Buddha and they are then lit and placed in the canals and waterways where they float away,perhaps bringing the wished for happiness and appeasement to their makers.
My Thai friend invited me to the festival.She had been helping the children in her daughters school, to make their Krathongs and I had watched and even tried the complicated folding of the leaves myself. Obviously it would have been insulting to refuse her,even when she told me that the three of us would go of course in the national costume. Have you ever seen the national costume!?
I was taken along to a shop where the beautiful heavy silk dresses and ornamental jewelry and tiaras could be hired.They are very expensive so few people have their own. The chosen dresses were then fitted,the bodice so tight we could hardly breath,and the long narrow skirt definately not designed to walk quickly in. We were to return on the afternoon of the festival to be made up,and our dressed in the traditional styling.
It took three and a half hours for them to turn us, into unbelievable looking china dolls,with a flawless make up,not only on our faces but on our arms and shoulders as well. We hardly recognised ourselves afterwards. Our hair was sprayed until it was so stiff that the sea breezes couldn’t harm it, put up and crowned with a gold Tiara and Orchids. Gold Jewelry was fitted around our waists, arms, neck and ears.
At last we were ready. My friend in a dress of burgundy and gold,mine the colour of the moon with gold,and her seven year old daughter in a lovely peach.
I soon got used to the nudges and stares, smiles and thumbs up. We were the absolute center of attraction.Everyone wanted to take my photo and the flashing cameras of the hundreds of Thai who weren’t in a costume made me feel like a Hollywood star on Oscar night. It certainly isn’t usual for them to see a blond “Farang” in the costume of old Siam.
Carrying our Krathongs we finally arrived at the canal and lowered them into the water.Slowly they floated away,the candles flickering in the moonlight.Our wishes going with them.
Will they come true? I hope so.