Loy Krathong Festival **(Information from: "Essays on Cultural Thailand" by Office of the National Culture Commission)**
One of the most popular festivals in early November is the Loy Krathong Festival. It takes place at a time when the weather is fine as the rainy season is over and there is a high water level all over the country.
"Loy" means "to float" and a "Krathong" is a "lotus-shaped vessel made of banana leaves". The Krathong usually containts a candle, three joss-sticks, some flower and coins.
In fact, the festival is of Brahmin origin in which people offer thanks to the Goddess of the water. Thus, by moonlight, people light the candles and joss-sticks, make a wish and launch their Krathongs on canals, rivers or even small ponds. It is belived that the Krathong carry away sins and bad luck, and the wishes that have been made fir the new year due to start. Indeed, it is the time to be joyful and happy as the sufferings are floated away.
The festival starts in the evening when there is full moon in the sky. People of all walks of life carry their Krathongs to the nearby rivers. After lighting candles and joss-sticks and making a wish, they gently place the Krathongs on the water and let them drift away till they go out of sight.
A Beautiful Queen Contest is an important part of the festival and for this occasion it is called "The Noppamas Queen Contest". Noppamas is a legendary figure from the Sukhotthai period. Old documents refer to her as the chief royal consort of a Sukhothai King named "Lithai". Noppamas was said to have made the first decorated Krathong to float in the river on the occasion.
In Bangkok, major establishments such as leading hotels and amusement parks organise their Loy Krathong Festival and the Krathong contest as major annual function.
For visitors to Thailand. the Loy Krathong Festival is and occasion not to be missed. The festival is listed in the tourist calendar. Everyone is invited to take part and share the joy and happiness