Monday, November 6, 2006

Loy Krathong

As indicated, today's blog entry is about the Thai celebration of Loy Krathong.

Over the weekend we were constantly reminded of this holiday by the incessant noise of fireworks and firecrackers being lit, often times in the middle of the day. Now that the festivities are over, we can look back and better understand why the Thai people do what they do.

This morning as my mother was out for a walk, she found some remnants of the krathong that were still in the pond in front of our house. Mostly made of palm or some sort of leaves, they float until they become waterlogged and sink. They were bedecked with flowers, incense, a candle, or a combination of all three on some of them. She was told that nail clippings, locks of hair, or money were also placed on the krathong. Reasons for why this is done varies. Some say it is to cast off the misfortunes or their ‘bad luck’ down the river. She also asked why money was placed on the krathong, and was told that it was some kind of offering to the goddess. It’s a contradiction of sorts on the krathong, but at least on the paper lanterns (lit by wax, some come with fireworks – looking like a star shooting skyward) they agree that it's to cast off their misfortunes.

Later on in the day, she spoke to Phii Chamngan, a Christian that went out last night to lay a krathong on the Ping River. When asked why he felt it was necessary, he said it was to thank the Goddess of the River for the provision of the water that he uses and also for him to pay his respect and to apologise for polluting it.

Loy Krathong in the complete sense of the holiday, is a day when the Thai people can both enjoy themselves and have fun (lots of food!), while experiencing a deep relief in their apparent forgiveness of sins. Either through the lanterns lit, or the krathongs placed on the river (or water source), they are able to pray, make amends, and to let go of what is unpleasant. It seems that the laying of the krathong is a must for them but not the lighting of fireworks or the lanterns. Unfortunately, even Thai people who already believe in Jesus have a hard time turning their backs on lifelong tradition. Please pray for the Thai people to believe in the one true God (not the Goddess of the River) and for Phii Chamngan and believers like him who still cling to their culture, that they would realize God's calling for them, and what they could better be doing with their lives.

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