The upcoming months are a great time to be golfing in Thailand – and if you are planning to be here this month, try to stay over the weekend of November 24th to take in, and indeed participate in, one of Thailand’s most beautiful and popular Festivals.
The Festival is called Loy Krathong, and it takes place on the full moon in November. During the evening, many people will go down to their local klong (canal) or river or even the beach to float their krathongs. They believe this will bring them good luck. The krathongs (small rafts traditionally made from a section of banana tree trunk – although modern-day versions often use Styrofoam) are decorated with elaborately-folded banana leaves and flowers, and contain a flower, a candle and three incense sticks which are lighted before being placed on the water. The people usually make a wish at the same time. Some believe that if the candle remains burning until the krathong is out of sight then their wish will come true. By the end of the evening, there are hundreds of flickering lights bobbing up and down on the water. Overall it is really a memorable evening and a great way to compliment golf in Thailand.
The festival probably originated in India as a Hindu festival similar to Deepavali as thanksgiving with floating lanterns to the deity of the Ganges for giving life throughout the year. According to the writings of H.M. King Rama IV in 1863, the original Brahman festival was adapted by Buddhists in Thailand as a ceremony to honor the Lord Buddha. Apart from venerating the Buddha with light (the candle on the raft), the act of floating away the krathong is symbolic of letting go of all one’s grudges, anger and defilements, so that one can start life afresh on a better foot – most appropriate for most Thailand golfers!
Many Thais believe that floating a krathong will create good luck, and they do it to honor and thank the Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Khongkha. Very often couples float their one krathong for good luck in their marriage or partnership, so the evening is also romantic. The beauty contests also accompany the festival, but beware not all the beauties are what they seem!
The Thai tradition of Loy Krathong started off in Sukhothai, but is now celebrated throughout Thailand, with the festivities in Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya being particularly well known. Whether you plan to golf in Bangkok, golf in Pattaya, golf in Phuket, golf in Hua Hin, golf in Chiangmai, or golf in Kanchanaburi, you can join in the celebrations. Krathongs are readily available for you to buy, and many hotels, especially those on or near the water, put on their own ceremonies.