Monday, December 29, 2014

Yi Peng and Loy Kratong

At the end of October, we drove over to MaeJo University on our motorcycles for the annual Yi Peng festival.  The highlight of Yi Peng and Loy Kratong is the spellbinding show that happens when thousands of people join together to release khom loi (lit lanterns) into the night sky. Prior to the big spectacle, monks perform chants during an on-stage ceremony.
During the other key ritual of this beautiful festival, participants let go of krathong—small floating vessels made from banana stalks and decorated with incense, offerings, flower and candles—into rivers and lakes creating a beautiful sight. 
Surrounding events include bright parades, musical performances, beauty pageants, traditional dances, lantern-making contests, fireworks, and lots and lots of food.  
After this event, we heard there were close to 20,000 people here to witness this lantern release.  We got to the event around 4:30 pm to find a spot to sit in the immense crowds.  As in anyplace in Thailand, food and drinks were plenty and then we just had to wait almost 3 hours before the lanterns were released. 
Here is Millie getting her lantern ready to be lit from below and released with thousands of others into the night sky. 
It was amazing to see them all being released at the same time.

At the end of the night, it was a mass exodus of those same 20,000 people all leaving down the same pathway between the canal and river and it took a very very long time.  After walking 45 minutes (it should have taken only 5 to 10 minutes!) we made it to our motorcycles and lots of weaving in and out of traffic, we made it safely home again.