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Loy Kratong

Thailand’s Loi Kratong is the equivalent of Valentine’s Day in western countries. It is celebrated yearly throughout Thailand and in some parts of Laos and Burma {Myanmar}. According to the Thai lunar calendar, Loi Krathong is observed on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month. Loi Krathong falls in November according to the western calendar.

It is romanticized by a 14th century legend that says that Nang Nopphamat, consort of the Sukothai King, floated a decorated raft down the river to her husband on a full moon night. However, according to the writings of H.M King Rama IV in 1863, the festival was adapted by Buddhists in Thailand as a ceremony to honour Buddha.

 Loi Krathong is traditionally made from the banana tree trunk or bread, and decorated with banana leaves, flowers, candles and incense sticks. A coin is sometimes included as an offering to the river spirits. Increasingly, Styrofoam is replacing these natural materials and is a source of pollution.

Loy Krathong Festival

The light symbolizes the Buddha, and the act of letting the raft float away is symbolic of letting go of all one's negative emotions and desires. The Thai believe that floating a raft will bring good luck, and they do it to honor and thank the Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Khongka. Couples will send a float down the river in the hope that the light doesn’t go out till the raft is out of sight. They believe this strengthens their love.

Loi Krathong in the classroom

Loi Krathong is a festival that aids many craft activities and also stimulates discussion on environmental awareness. Here’s how:

  1. Get a banana stem at your local Asian store, or find a picture online. Bring it to class and get your children talking about the many uses of a banana stem.
  2. Use a banana stem or loaf of bread to create a Loi Krathong. Let the children decorate it as they wish. You can even make a float out of paper mache.
  3. Discuss natural materials such as the banana stem vs. non-natural such as the Styrofoam. Ask them which is bio-degradable and safer for the environment.
  4. Celebrate Thailand in general in your room, learn how to say Hello and Thank you in Thai (remember there are different ways to do this depending if you are a women or a man) ie Saw Wa Dee Ca is hello if your a women/girl or Saw wa Dee Krap if your a man/boy. Same with thanks you is Khup Kun Ca if your a women/girl or Khup Kun Krap if your a man or boy
  5. Find videos of Loi Krathong on the Internet or You Tube and screen it in class.
  6. Read stories on or set in the Thai culture and listen to Asian music in the class like our Asian Dreamland CD
  7. If your community is lucky enough to have Thai families in your midst, invite them in to your classroom to perform a traditional dance or to teach you a few words and discuss some cultural differences between Thailand Australia
  8.  For older students, introduce them to Buddha and his teachings. Ask them how they feel about his philosophy in life. 
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