LOI KRATHONG: History and Meaning

During the month of November, Thailand, like the United States, holds a festival of thanksgiving. Loi Krathong is celebrated in the evenings just before this month’s full moon. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

During Loi Krathong, celebrants gather along Thailand’s riverbanks, and with a prayer for a year of good fortune, they release special banana leaf cups, called krathongs, into the water and watch as they sail away. Usually the cups are filled with incense, a candle or coins, and the procession of twinkling candlelight across the water creates a visual spectacle.

Nat Boonthanakit is with the Tourism Authority of Thailand. He tells us about the history of Loi Krathong.

“Legend has it that in Sukothai, the city located halfway between Bangkok and the northern city of Chingmai, the maiden known as Nopoman, shaped the very first krathong and presented it to her king, some 800 years ago. And it’s been an annual festival ever since.”

“In the old days, there was a big Loi Krathong festival, and this was normally staged for the royal family, and these krathongs were massive cups that contained musicians and dancers.”

Although the original meaning of the celebration has been obscured by time, people have developed their own personal significance for the holiday.

“Loi Krathong offers the Thai people on a very grand scale, once a year, a chance to offer our thanks to the waterways for an abundant harvest, for our life of riches, for the whole year.”

“Thailand, by and large, is still an agricultural country, and we rely heavily on the rainfall and the waterways.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I’m Jim Metzner.

LOI KRATHONG: History and Meaning

A prayer for a year of good fortune is just a piece of the meaning of Thailand’s Loi Krathong festival.
Air Date:11/14/1997
Scientist:
Transcript:

During the month of November, Thailand, like the United States, holds a festival of thanksgiving. Loi Krathong is celebrated in the evenings just before this month's full moon. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

During Loi Krathong, celebrants gather along Thailand's riverbanks, and with a prayer for a year of good fortune, they release special banana leaf cups, called krathongs, into the water and watch as they sail away. Usually the cups are filled with incense, a candle or coins, and the procession of twinkling candlelight across the water creates a visual spectacle.

Nat Boonthanakit is with the Tourism Authority of Thailand. He tells us about the history of Loi Krathong.

"Legend has it that in Sukothai, the city located halfway between Bangkok and the northern city of Chingmai, the maiden known as Nopoman, shaped the very first krathong and presented it to her king, some 800 years ago. And it's been an annual festival ever since."

"In the old days, there was a big Loi Krathong festival, and this was normally staged for the royal family, and these krathongs were massive cups that contained musicians and dancers."

Although the original meaning of the celebration has been obscured by time, people have developed their own personal significance for the holiday.

"Loi Krathong offers the Thai people on a very grand scale, once a year, a chance to offer our thanks to the waterways for an abundant harvest, for our life of riches, for the whole year."

"Thailand, by and large, is still an agricultural country, and we rely heavily on the rainfall and the waterways."

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I'm Jim Metzner.