KOH LANTA FESTIVALS
Koh Lanta Festivals. The moon is seemingly fuller for seeing it from an island. Its great mirror reflects on the surface of the water. It is the end of the 12th lunar month, the rains have quieted. You follow a crowd to the beach.
Many are carrying small vessels decorated with flowers and banana leaves. The vessels hold candles and coins. The gathering wades into the water and sets their small crafts adrift; a soft tide pulls them out to sea until they are just points of light on the horizon.
Once again, the people, and culture of Koh Lanta have enchanted you, this time with their unique approach to celebrations.
Not surprisingly many of the festivals in Thailand are decidedly water oriented. Loy Krathong is the festival of launching described above.
The vessels are “krathong” they are released as an offering to the water goddess, Phra-Mae Khong-kha ,“Mother of Waters”.
The meaning is a dichotomy: thanks for the supply of water and apology for any harm done to natural systems. Usually November.
Loi Ruea Chao-leh
The same motif of decorating and releasing boats is used in Loi Ruea Chao-Le, the festival of the Urak Lawoi, the nomadic tribe also known as sea gypsies.
Small ritual versions of tradition long boats are festooned with flowers and candles, some carry hair or fingernail clippings as a symbol of releasing transgressions and negativity.
The “boats of misfortunes” are released with the hope of taking bad luck with them and ensuring prosperity for the coming months.
Urak Lawoi dance their traditional dance “rong ngeng” around the boats to be offered. The dance is beautifully controlled yet joyous, accompanied by violin, mandolin, accordion, drums and gong. This is a bi-annual event usually May and November of each year.
Yi Peng is possibly the world’s most gorgeous festival.
A throng of people gather at water’s edge. They bring large paper cylinders that carry a fuel soaked disk.
The crowd waits until a monk indicates the ritual is to begin. In unison hundreds of hands lift the ethereal lamps and light the wicks. Slowly the vessel fills with enough hot air to lift it from the celebrates hands.
A mass of lanterns float into the night sky carrying the participant’s desire to make merit: a Buddhist concept of accumulating goodness toward to the path of enlightenment.
Thailand’s most internationally renowned festival, Songkran, is the world’s biggest water fight.
The Thai New Year celebration was originally practiced as a ceremony of honor for one’s elders and the Buddha by gently sprinkling water on them for good fortune.
But the event has evolved into a full blown water fight that is especially welcome because it comes at the hottest time of the year, mid-April, just before the rains begin. Super soakers, buckets and hoses are employed to douse friends, and strangers.
Songkran is a window into the Thai people’s fun loving nature. Enjoy yourself, this child’s play, but be respectful of the elderly and the Buddha, by offering only a humble sprinkle.
Though not a tradition based festival Laanta Lanta festival is unique to Koh Lanta and especially charming because its purpose is to celebrate the islander’s success at peaceful integration of various cultures.
It’s an annual event held in March in Lanta Old Town. The festival has a county fair atmosphere; it’s a cornucopia of traditional crafts, foods, ceremony, water competitions, dance and music.
This is the festival where Koh Lanta celebrates itself.
Koh Lanta’s people seek to keep their traditions alive and celebrate its diversity by supporting its many cultural influences.
If you feel that tradition and ritual are something your life lacks. Koh Lanta is a perfect place to nurture your desire for connection.