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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Thailand, Lesson 5 – Loy Krathong Day
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Thailand Series at ThaiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Thai holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 5, Loy Krathong Day. In Thai, it’s called วันลอยกระทง (wan laauy grà-thong).
In this lesson, we're going to discuss Loy Kratong Day, which is another important day in Thailand. This tradition has been carried on since the Sukhothai Era. It’s held on the fifteenth day of the waxing moon in the twelfth lunar month of the traditional Thai calendar. It usually falls in November, according to the international calendar. Therefore, the Loy Kratong date is not fixed. It varies every year depending on the full moon or พระจันทร์เต็มดวง (phrá-jan dtem duuang).
You must be interested by now. If you're ready, let’s listen.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
In the past, before the Loy Kratong Festival, Thai people would float something other than leaf bowls. Do you know what they were?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
In principle, there are two major beliefs that form the origins of Loy Kratong Day. The first one is to worship Lord Buddha as he preached in Nakapipob (the land of Naga) and left his footprints by a river bank. The second is to worship the Khongkha Goddess, the goddess of the river, to thank her for providing water. In the past, towns were traditionally built near rivers or แม่น้ำ (mâae náam), as people relied on water for their living. This activity can remind us of responsible usage of water, like not wasting it and not contaminating it with waste.
From this long-held belief, people have designed a bowl as a symbol for worship. To build the bowl or กระทง (grà-thong), materials that float on the water are used, including banana trunks, banana leaves, and coconut shells, and these are decorated beautifully with flowers, joss sticks, candles, and other worship items. More recently, there have been variations and modifications on the materials used to make the bowl, including bread bowls and paper bowls which have better biodegradability and environmental friendliness. There are even competitions for building the bowls. And traders who want their items to be attractive design new bowls every year.
The Loy Kratong Festival is held on the night of a full moon. At dawn, people begin to bring their bowls to the river bank. Before floating them, they light the candles, ask for forgiveness, and ask for blessings and success. After that, they float the bowl on the river. People also often put money or เงิน (ngoen) in their bowls in the belief that this can serve to worship the Khongkha goddess. In several places, there are Kratong bowl competitions, parades, entertainment, parties, and also fireworks celebrations.
The four components of the bowl are also symbols of Buddhism. The first, the candle, is a symbol of knowledge and wisdom. The second, the Joss stick, is a symbol of purity and sympathy. The third, the flower, represents worship of monks who are disciples of Buddha. And the fourth, the worshipping item, is used to make an offering to deceased ancestors.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
In the past, before the Loy Kratong Festival, Thai people floated something other than leaf bowls. Do you know what they were?
In the past, people actually floated lanterns during the Loy Kratong Festival. The hypothesis is that this was a Brahmin ceremony inherited from India. Then, Miss Noppamas, a chief concubine of a king long ago, saw a lotus that bloomed on a full moon day in the twelfth month. She had the idea to build a bowl to give to the king. The king was very happy and commanded that the bowl be floated instead of the lantern.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Had you heard of this festival before?
Leave us a comment telling us at ThaiPod101.com!
And I’ll see you in the next lesson!