Malaysia is a multicultural land. Our country and nation builds on diversity all thanks to our ancestors who came from all over the world to settle here. We were taught from young the many different cultures and beliefs that exists in our country which in turn helps us understand, respect and embrace our differences.
With culture and belief comes the festivities. It is common knowledge to know the main festivals of our country such as Hari Raya, Lunar New Year, Deepavali and Christmas, but those are not the only ones that is being celebrated. The well-known holidays are the ones printed on our calendars on an annual basis, what about the unknown ones that are no where to be found no matter how many times you flip around that calendar?
Loy KraThong is one of those unknown festival that I speak of that happened on the 12th November 2016 (Saturday). It is a festival mainly celebrated by the Thai community which happens to be an important holiday that is largely celebrated across Thailand. This holiday is known as the “festival of lights” and it is pretty similar to the floating lights in Tangled, but instead of covering the night sky like stars it covers the lake or river with glimmering lights.
The term is simply translated as “floating sculpture” which resembles the shape of a lotus flower. It is traditionally made from banana tree trunks as the main core then intricately decorated with leaves, flowers, candles and joss sticks. The core, however, are now substituted either by styrofoam or bread.
This festivity dates back many centuries ago as an ancient Thai ritual to worship the Mae Khong river goddess. Now it is celebrated as a blessing and a sign of good luck.
Loy KraThong is celebrated by launching the lotus sculpture into a lake or river. The candles and joss sticks would first be lit up then later some would say their prayers while others may just make a simple wish. Families would then gather to hold the KraThong together before launching it on a lake or river then they would watch it float far away and some say if the light still burns until the sculpture disappears from sight, good luck will come your way. What happens next is usually a beauty pageant would be involved where participants are dressed in traditional Thai clothing. Very much like a Miss Universe pageant I would say.
I was lucky enough to be able to witness this magical occasion that happened in the Taman Jaya Park. The sculptures were launched into the dark lake, children’s laughter and the mutterings of prayers filled the air with the addition of traditional Thai dance and music playing in the background. After the launch, well-wishers headed to the Chetawan temple nearby where a beauty pageant was held. Girls of all ages participated in the event and they were judged just like the Miss Universe pageant. Just watching how the little girls strut their stuff on stage, giving the audience all they got just makes me admire their courage.
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This was just a glimpse of how the holiday is celebrated but to truly immerse in this magical experience, travel to the famous Thai cities of Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai where the festival is grandly celebrated.
~ Photos by yours truly ~