Thailand never failed to please visitors with its wonderful beaches, delectable cuisine, stunning temples, fantastic elephants, and lovely floating marketplaces. You might be surprised to learn that the country of smiles is also home to some of Southeast Asia’s best vibrant festivals.
The Songkran celebration and the Loy Krathong festival are two of the most well-known events that attract plenty of tourists. These are the most well-known and important festivals; if you want to know why, scroll down and read this article.
Table of contents:
- History of Songkran and Loy Krathong
- What is Songkran?
- What is Loy Krathong?
- How exactly Krathong and Songkran is celebrated?
- Main differences between Loy Krathong and Songkran
In Thailand, Songkran is a traditional holiday that has long been observed. It is a time of regeneration and fresh starts and is observed to signal the start of the traditional Thai New Year. The Sanskrit term “Sankranti”, which means “to move”, is where the name “Songkran” originates. It is thought that the start of a new season occurs when the sun transitions from one constellation to another during Songkran.
The celebration, which typically lasts for three days, is joyfully observed. The water tossing is the festival’s most significant feature since it is said to wash away bad luck from the past year and usher in the new one with a fresh start. As a gesture of respect, many frequently use this time to wash their elderly relatives.
Along with splashing water, celebrations often include parades, street parties, beauty pageants, and some other events. During the celebration, customary rituals are also performed, including constructing sand stupas and presenting gifts to the Buddha.
Another significant holiday in Thailand is called Loy Krathong, which is observed in the southern and eastern regions of the nation. This celebration is observed on the full moon of the 12th lunar month, which often occurs in November. The term “Loy Krathong” derives from the words “Loy” which means “to float” and “Krathong”, which signifies “a little basket”. Little baskets of banana leaves carry flowers, incense, and candles down a river as part of the festival celebration. This is said to bring luck and is viewed as a means to make a gift to the river spirits.
Also, many use this occasion to express their wishes and plead for mercy. They celebrate by participating in processions, beauty contests, traditional folk dances, and floating the krathong. Along with ancient traditions like lighting lanterns in the sky and giving sacrifices to the Buddha, there are also fireworks and light displays.
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Thai New Year holiday, known as Songkran, is observed every year from April 13 to April 15. The celebration, which originates in the Buddhist calendar, commemorates the transition between the dry and monsoon seasons. The Sanskrit term “Sankranti”, which means “astrological passage”, is the source of the English word “Songkran”, which refers to the time when the sun changes signs in the zodiac.
Songkran is traditionally celebrated by sprinkling water, representing the washing away of all unluck from the preceding year. It is common for people to congregate in public spaces to splash one another with water, and it is also traditional to sprinkle water on the hands of the elderly as a blessing. This is carried out as a mark of deference as well as respect.
It is also worth mentioning that large water fights and parties have been hosted in cities as part of the Songkran festival’s recent commercialisation. Yet, many people continue to observe and enjoy the festival’s ancient ceremonies and traditions.
A celebration called Loy Krathong is held yearly on the full moon of the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar (usually in November). The holiday, observed in many Buddhist nations worldwide, originates in an Indian Hindu celebration. Practice of building and releasing krathongs, or little boats constructed of banana leaves and flowers, into rivers and lakes gave rise to the term Loy Krathong.
The krathong is viewed as a method for individuals to start over and make a fresh start since it is said to carry away any evil karma or luck from the prior year. People will assemble on the banks of lakes and rivers on the festival night to burn candles and incense and float their krathongs in the water.
Moreover, traditional music, dance, as well as fireworks are used to commemorate Loy Krathong. Large firework displays and parties have been hosted in cities throughout recent years, which have greatly increased the festival’s commercialisation. Yet, many people continue to observe and enjoy the festival’s ancient customs and rituals.
Both Loy Krathong and Songkran are observed in similar ways. People will assemble in public spaces to enjoy the festivities with music, dancing, and dining. Along with feeding the monks, they will sacrifice the gods and spirits. Many people would go to their local temple on the day of the festival to make virtue and offer prayers for luck.
People will create krathongs to float on rivers or lakes at home and decorate their homes. They will also prepare unique sweets, such as “Khao Niaw,” a sticky rice cake filled with coconut, sesame, and palm sugar, a classic Thai treat. Songkran and Loy Krathong are significant festivals for the Thai people because they are occasions for joy, introspection, and merit-making. They are also a chance for families to get together and spend time with one another.
How to celebrate Loy Krathong and Songkran?
Making or purchasing your krathong to participate in the event and sending down a significant canal is the most typical way to commemorate Loy Krathong. Each Krathong’s candle, put in the center, might travel with a prayer, memory, and wish attached. Some people go so far as to include hair and nail pieces in their krathongs, further signifying the release of upsetting memories from the past.
The festival means much more to many residents than merely the krathongs. You may also participate in parades, pageants honouring the Buddha and the Water Goddess, fireworks displays, and traditional dance performed by the Lanna people of Chiang Mai.
Making your own Krathong is one of the best ways to participate in the festivities. Tourists interested in learning how to make krathongs can enroll in lessons where they will be taught how to fold banana leaves into various basket forms and what kinds of flowers and other decorations work best. After making your water lantern, you may join the ritual with locals at some of the major rivers or temples. Alternatively, you may hold your private celebration and invite your loved ones and relatives. In addition to parades and temple visits, Songkran is also observed with hand-washing ceremonies for the elderly.
The main event to participate in during Songkran, often known as the “Water Festival” by tourists, is a water fight. Water is used in different ways during the festival, even though the water bottle is the most chaotic and entertaining part of the festivities.
Buddhists believe that water represents rebirth. Hence during the festival, they splash water for good luck on Buddha sculptures. Elderly people’s hands are frequently cleaned by younger generations, who then get blessings in exchange. Water battles are currently a relatively new ritual associated with Songkran.
Due to the popularity of these water battles, Thailand frequently closes roadways so that participants can gather there. To spread the pleasure and blessings of Songkran, individuals are doused with water using water pistols, buckets, and virtually any container that can carry water.
If you want to participate in the festivities, be ready. Even if you choose not to participate in the battle, many individuals will end themselves drenched. Thus, keep your hotel room free of valuables and protect your phone by putting it in a waterproof case or perhaps a plastic bag.
- Loy Krathong could be a better option if the weather significantly influences your decision-making. In November, when Thailand often experiences lower temperatures and the conclusion of the rainy season, Loy Krathong typically takes place, and the weather is generally more favorable.
- If cost is a problem, be aware that while some Loy Krathong events are free, most require money. For the finest experience and the most spectacular images, visitors who wish to witness the release of krathongs and sky lanterns in huge numbers should purchase tickets to one of the major events.
- Loy Krathong will indeed be your heaven if you enjoy photography. Everyone with a camera will want to take shots of the illumination and beauty that the krathongs and lanterns produce for days.
- Songkran is an excellent opportunity for anyone who wishes to interact with the locals more. Travelers frequently become entangled in the celebrations when out and about. Individuals of all ages may have a lot of fun doing this and make friendships that last a lifetime.
- Loy Krathong is preferable for night owls because most of the events occur at night, unlike Songkran, which is mostly a daylight festival.
- The two festivals’ themes are another significant difference. While music, dancing, and fireworks are used to commemorate both holidays, Loy Krathong focuses on making sacrifices to the goddess of water, while Songkran focuses on welcoming the New Year and showing respect for one’s elders. This is important for tourists to know before they choose between the two festivals to celebrate.
Two of the most popular holidays in Thailand are Loy Krathong and Songkran, which annually attracts a considerable number of tourists. Although there are some similarities between the two events, there are also some significant differences that travelers should be aware of before going to either one.
For visitors to fully enjoy their trip and have the greatest time possible, the key distinctions between Loy Krathong as well as Songkran have been highlighted in this article so you can make the right decision easily.
Two of the most significant holidays in Thailand are Songkran and Loy Krathong, which are both widely recognised and joyfully celebrated. These celebrations have a long and illustrious history and are viewed as a means to pay respect to the past and show appreciation for the environment. They are also viewed as a chance to reconnect with family and with Thai culture, customs, as well as values. No matter how you choose to observe these holidays, the most crucial thing is to have a great time with your loved ones and also make lasting memories.