» Home

  » Isaan Dialect - Introduction to the dialect spoken by approximately 1/3 of Thailand's people.

  » Thai Particles - Explanation of Thai language particles with example sentences.

  » Loi Gratong Festival - Thailand's magical floating basket festival.

  » Same Same - Why do Thais say same same instead of just same?

  » Space Invaders - Play Space Invaders game online in your browser using Flash plugin - SANUK MAHK!

  » Thai Videos - Traditional Thai dancing videos.

  » Thai News Stories - English translations of Thai news stories.

  » Visitors' Guestbook - Leave a comment.

Loi Gratong Festival



Sorry, your browser doesn't support Java(tm).

Loi Gratong festival at Khlorng Lord, Banglamphoo, Bangkok.
A Thai lady on the left bank can be seen getting ready to float her basket to join the others on the canal.
Run your mouse across the water to leave behind some ripples.
Photo copyright 2002 Boo Boo (c)
(Java applet - note that you will require Sun Java to be installed to see the picture).

Click here for an alternative version of the picture.


Loi Gratong Song

Click here to listen to the traditional Loi Gratong song, played throughout Loi Gratong day, in either Windows Media asf or RealPlayer format rm.

Wan phen deuan sip sawng
Nam gaw nawng dtem dtaling
Rao tang lai, chai ying
Sanook gan jing wan Loi Gratong!
Loi, Loi Gratong...Loi, Loi Gratong
Loi Gratong kan laew
Khor chern nawng gaew[1] awk ma ramwong
Ramwong wan Loi Gratong
Ramwong wan Loi Gratong
Boon ja song hai rao sook jai
Boon ja song hai rao sook jai

วันเพ็ญเดือนสิบสอง
น้ำก็นองเต็มตลิ่ง
เราทั้งหลายชายหญิง
สนุกกันจริงวันลอยกระทง
ลอยลอยกระทง...ลอยลอยกระทง
ลอยกระทงกันแล้ว
ขอเชิญน้องแก้วออกมารำวง
รำวงวันลอยกระทง
รำวงวันลอยกระทง
บุญจะส่งให้เราสุขใจ
บุญจะส่งให้เราสุขใจ

(Thanks to Khun Andro for the Thai script).

Translation

On the full moon day of the 12th lunar month
Water overflows the riverbanks
All the boys and girls
Will have fun together on Loi Gratong Day
Loi, Loi Gratong...Loi, Loi Gratong!
When we’ve floated our gratongs
We’ll ask the young girls to dance the ramwong [2]
Dance the ramwong on Loi Gratong Day
Dance the ramwong on Loi Gratong Day
Doing good deeds will bring us happiness
Doing good deeds will bring us happiness



Loi Gratong

This annual festival falls on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month, usually in mid November. At this time the moon is brightest and the tides highest.

It really is a magical festival, and I hope the above Java-enhanced photo captures some of the atmosphere of the night. Thais will go out in the evening and float small baskets containing candles, incense and money from the banks of waterways. The waterways can look very beautiful with the multitude of glittering candles dotting their path and the sky is often lit up with fireworks too.

Loi Gratong (ลอยกระทง) literally means 'floating basket'. In former times the gratong กระทง (baskets) were made from banana tree leaves or the layers of the trunk of a banana tree or Spider Lily Plant. Nowadays polystyrene is often used in their construction.

The ceremony is a fairly simple one, with the candles and incense being lit and the gratong pushed away from the water bank. A wish is then made, sometimes with the hands being raised in a traditional Thai Wai, as the gratong floats away with the current.

According to one Thai custom, people must keep their eyes on their gratong until it's drifted out of sight as there is a belief that the longer the candle is burning, the better the next year will be.

Very often, girlfriend will go with boyfriend as a pair to celebrate the festival. It is often said that you will know a Thai's true partner by noting who you see them floating a basket with. If a Thai asks you along to the festival there's a good chance they are interested in you for more than just friendship!

There is an old Thai proverb which says: "When a boy and girl float a gratong together, they will be lovers in this life or the next".

Later on in the evening, there is usually a beauty contest, with Thai ladies dressing up in traditional Thai costume (ชุดไทย) and competing for the title of Nang Nopamart (นางนพมาศ). A chance to experience first hand the beauty of Thai women.

In Chiang Mai province in Northern Thailand, people also celebrate Loi Gratong, but in a unique fashion. As well as floating gratongs on the river, they also launch illuminated Lanna-style hot air balloons into the evening sky. They have their own special name for the occasion: the Northern Lantern Festival and the Yipeng Loi Gratong festival.

There is some uncertainty as to the origin of the Loi Gratong festival. Some people say the festival is in atonement to the goddess of water for having used and sometimes polluted her waters. Others that it is to offer flowers, candles and incense as respect to the Lord Buddha's footprint on the sandy beach at the Narmada river. It is also possible that it is derived from a Hindu festival paying tribute to the God Vishnu who supposedly meditates at the centre of the ocean. Another explanation is that it is a way to pay respect to one's ancestors.

Whatever the true origin of the festival, it is certainly an enchanting one and a pleasurable time is guaranteed for all.

Happy memories...


Notes

1. Nawng Gaew is a Thai word for a young girl.
2. Ramwong is a kind of Thai folk dance.


Please send any comments and corrections here.

Page last updated Dec 2016.

This site is © Copyright Boo Boo 2003-2016. All Rights Reserved.

Online User(s)

Counter

drupal hit counter