Friday, December 6, 2013

Loi Kratong

I turned thirty a few weeks ago. It wasn't nearly as overwhelming as I thought it would be and, in fact, it was very low key, but wonderful. I had the great fortune of sharing the day with the Thai holiday Loi Kratong. Historically, Loi Kratong, which means floating crown/decoration, was a Brahman festival to worship gods such as Shiva, Vishnu, and Bramha. As Thais adopted Buddhism and the ceremony, the floating decorations were offered to honor the Buddha's cremated remains and his footprint on the Nammathanati River banks in India.

Modernly, Thais still offer kratong during the twelfth full moon of the year, which typically happens in November. Most often, they are made from the trunk of a banana tree, decorated with banana leaves, lotus and other flowers, candles, and incense.
It is important that these decorations are bio-degradable because, as floating decoration implies, your kratong is sent down the river. Part of the reason for the ceremony is to both offer gratitude and ask forgiveness of the river, and all forms of water, for all the services it offers life and the trespasses against it.
The ceremony also includes the floating of lanterns into the sky. With them, your worries and sins are supposed to fly away, bringing you luck in the coming days, weeks, and months. 

The beauty of the sights were matched only by that of the experience itself. I am very thankful for the opportunity to have spent it in my new home and community.

I imagine that giving thanks and sending away my stress and sins on the day I began my forth decade of life can only be an incredibly positive sign of things to come. 

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