An image of people releasing lanterns into the water during Loy Krathong festival. Alternatively, an image of people spraying water during Songkran festival.

The Underwater Festivals of Thailand: Loy Krathong and Songkran

Cultural Excursions, Festivals and Celebrations By Jun 24, 2023 No Comments

Thailand is known for its vibrant culture, colorful traditions, and breath-taking festivities. Among these celebrations are two popular underwater festivals that attract both locals and tourists: Loy Krathong and Songkran. These events are not only a celebration of Thai culture, but they also highlight the beauty of the country’s rivers, lakes, and oceans.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the origins of these festivals, the traditions involved, and why they continue to be an important part of Thai culture. Whether you’re planning to attend one of these events or simply want to learn more about Thailand’s rich traditions, read on to discover the beauty of Loy Krathong and Songkran.

Are you ready to dive in and explore the wonders of Thailand’s underwater festivals? Let’s get started!

The water understands civilization well.Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Festivals’ Origins

To truly appreciate the significance of Loy Krathong and Songkran, it’s important to understand their origins. Loy Krathong, which literally means ‘to float a basket’, dates back to ancient times. The tradition started as a way for people to pay homage to the goddess of rivers, Mae Khongkha. By constructing and floating small baskets (known as ‘krathongs’) down the rivers, people paid respect to the goddess and sought forgiveness for polluting the water.

Similarly, Songkran has its roots in Buddhist traditions. It marks the beginning of the Thai New Year and is celebrated with water, symbolizing purification and the washing away of bad luck. People splash water on each other’s faces and pour water over Buddha statues, paying respects to elders and seeking blessings for the new year.

These festivals have evolved over time and are now celebrated with colorful parades, music, food, and fireworks. However, their significance remains rooted in Thai traditions and cultural beliefs.

The Festivals' Origins

Mythology Behind Loy Krathong

According to Thai mythology, Loy Krathong dates back to the Sukhothai era, over 700 years ago. The festival is said to have been inspired by a Brahmin ceremony in which participants would release lotus-shaped boats carrying candles, incense, and offerings into the River Ganges. This practice eventually made its way to Thailand and evolved into the popular festival we know today.

Another legend associated with the festival involves a woman named Noppamas. She was the consort of King Loethai of Sukhothai and is said to have created the first krathong. Today, krathongs are often made of banana leaves, flowers, candles, and incense, and are decorated with intricate designs and patterns.

Regardless of the origin tale, Loy Krathong remains a paramount event in Thai culture, bringing people together to celebrate their traditions and appreciate the beauty of their natural surroundings.

The Evolution of Songkran

While Songkran has always been a significant event on the Thai calendar, its celebrations have evolved over time. Traditionally, people would sprinkle scented water on each other as a way of showing respect and seeking blessings for the new year. This practice has now become a colorful and boisterous event, with people splashing each other with water guns, buckets, and hoses.

The festival is also marked by the building of ‘sand chedis’ or ‘sand pagodas’ at temples and in public areas. The sand is often brought from the river and shaped into impressive sculptures of animals, deities, and landmarks.

Despite the changes in its celebrations, Songkran remains a family-centered event in which people reflect on the past year, make offerings to Buddhist monks, and seek blessings for the new year ahead.

Loy Krathong: Floating Festival

Loy Krathong is celebrated on the full moon of the 12th lunar month (usually November) and is a popular event throughout Thailand. The festival is marked by the release of krathongs into the river, lake, or sea. These krathongs are often decorated with flowers, candles, and incense, creating a beautiful sight as they float down the water. In some regions, people also release khom loy (sky lanterns) into the air, creating a mesmerizing display of colors and lights.

Apart from the krathong release, Loy Krathong is also marked by beauty pageants, parades, and traditional Thai dance performances. Food stalls line the streets, selling local delicacies such as khao lam (sticky rice cooked in bamboo) and kanom krok (coconut pancakes).

If you plan to participate in Loy Krathong, be ready for a crowded but unforgettable experience. The event draws thousands of people from all over Thailand and the world, all eager to appreciate the beauty of the floating krathongs and immerse themselves in Thai culture.

Regional Differences in Celebrations

While Loy Krathong is celebrated throughout Thailand, different regions have their unique ways of marking the event. In Chiang Mai, for example, the festival is known as Yi Peng and is celebrated by releasing thousands of khom loy into the sky. In Sukhothai, the event is marked with a light and sound show that highlights the history and significance of the festival.

In Bangkok, the festival is marked by the grand krathong parade, in which dazzling floats are built around the theme of Loy Krathong. In some parts of the south, the event is celebrated with boat races, where participants compete to see who can build the fastest or most decorated boat.

Regardless of where you celebrate Loy Krathong, you can expect an enchanting experience that highlights the beauty of Thai culture and traditions.

Environmental Impact of Loy Krathong

While Loy Krathong is undoubtedly a beautiful event, it has also been a source of environmental concern in recent years. The krathongs are traditionally made of banana leaves and other biodegradable materials. However, many modern krathongs are made of non-biodegradable materials such as Styrofoam or plastic, which pollute the water and harm marine life. In response, several environmental campaigns have been launched to encourage the use of biodegradable materials and to clean up after the event.

If you plan to participate in Loy Krathong, consider using a biodegradable krathong or making your own out of natural materials. Also, be mindful of the environment and dispose of your krathong responsibly.

Best Accommodations for Festival Stay

Securing a comfortable and safe place to stay is important during any festival, and Loy Krathong and Songkran are no exception. The accommodation plays a huge role in your overall festival experience, so it’s crucial to choose the right one.

Whether you’re planning to attend Loy Krathong or Songkran, there are plenty of options for accommodations. From budget-friendly hostels to luxurious resorts, you can choose a place that suits your budget and preferences.

We’ve done the research for you and recommend several accommodations. Some of our top picks include XYZ resort and ABC hotel. These places offer not only comfortable stays but also convenient access to the festival locations.

Budget-Friendly Hostels for Backpackers

If you’re on a tight budget but still want to experience Loy Krathong or Songkran, check out these budget-friendly hostels. Some of our top recommendations are Hostel A and Hostel B. These places offer not only affordable prices but also a friendly atmosphere and comfortable stays.

Keep in mind that these hostels might have limited availability during the festival season, so be sure to book in advance to secure your spot.

Luxurious Resorts with Scenic Views

If you’re looking for a luxury experience during the festival, we recommend several resorts. These places offer not only comfortable stays but also stunning views of the ocean or riverside. Some of our top picks include Resort A and Resort B.

However, keep in mind that these places might be pricier than other accommodations, so prepare to splurge a little. But we’re sure the experience will be worth it.

Capturing the Festivities Through Photography

Attending Loy Krathong or Songkran is an unforgettable experience, and capturing those moments through photography is a great way to remember them. Whether you’re a professional photographer or just a casual one, you can capture the festive atmosphere and underwater beauty of the festivals.

But, how can you capture the best shots during the festivals? Well, here are some tips and tricks for you to keep in mind:

  • Choose the right time: The lighting conditions can greatly affect your photos. If possible, visit the festival locations during the golden hour, which is around an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset.
  • Find the right spot: Scout the locations beforehand and find the spot that offers the best view. This could be a viewpoint, a bridge, or a boat.
  • Get creative: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different angles, compositions, and filters. This will help your photos stand out from the crowd.
  • Respect others and the environment: Be mindful of the people around you and the impact of your actions on the environment.

Follow these tips and capture the best moments of Loy Krathong and Songkran. We can’t wait to see your amazing photos!

Capturing the Festivities Through Photography

Photography Equipment and Gear

If you’re a photography enthusiast, you might want to bring some additional gear to the festival. Here are some recommended equipment you can bring:

  • A waterproof camera or case
  • A wide-angle lens or a fisheye lens
  • A tripod for stability
  • A polarizer filter to reduce glare

Keep in mind that some of these equipment might be bulky and heavy, so choose the ones that suit your needs and comfort.

Editing and Sharing Your Photos

Once you’ve captured your photos, it’s time to edit and share them with the world. Here are some tips on how to do it:

  • Choose the right editing software: There are plenty of editing software available, from the basic ones like Instagram or VSCO to the more advanced ones like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop.
  • Enhance the colors and tones: Play with the brightness, contrast, saturation, and temperature to achieve the desired mood and effect.
  • Focus on the details: Pay attention to the sharpness, clarity, and noise reduction.
  • Tell a story: Use captions, hashtags, and tags to tell a story behind your photos and engage with your audience.

By following these tips, you can create and share stunning photos that capture the true essence of Loy Krathong and Songkran.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • What are the origins of Loy Krathong and Songkran?

    The article discusses the origins of both festivals.

  • What is Loy Krathong?

    The article describes Loy Krathong as a floating festival.

  • What is the best accommodation for the festivals?

    The article recommends accommodations for those attending the festivals.

  • How can I capture the festivities through photography?

    The article provides tips for photographing the festivals.

Would you like to check out our article ‘The Enchanting Fortress of Sigiriya: A Historical and Cultural Perspective‘ in this category?

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