Last week, we celebrated the Thai festival of Loy Krathong here in Exile. Traditionally this annual festival is when Thais pay their respects to the water spirits, to ensure clean and abundant water for the coming year; and to 'float away' their sins and cares of the past year.
This fesitval is particulalry poignant today as you would be aware, Thailand and now Bangkok, are suffering from the effects of severe flooding after a series of heavy storms September and early October. There has been much loss of life, livelihood and housing and the country is ill-equipped to deal with the humanitarian and physical consequences of the flooding.
'Loi' or 'Loy' means to float and a 'krathong' is a little boat made of banana leaf or trunk and decorated with flowers, incense sticks and candles. People make their own krathongs traditionally, especially children at school, and may decorate them to reflect their lives and concerns, with small figures or offerings.
Our krathongs were made by a group of Thai ladies. All the krathongs were sold to raise money for the flood victims. Each was unique and beautiful and some were quite complex:
We launched the krathongs from the beach - out to sea as there are no rivers or canals here:
The function was hosted by the Thai Ambassador, supported by members of the local Thai community. We had a wonderful Thai feast (always food!) and entertainment. There were various Thai dances, traditional music and a fashion show of Thai ladies' costumes for the last few centuries from different parts of the country, all arranged by the local Thai community.
The photos are all a bit fuzzy as they were handheld, at a distance, in the dark, but they give you a taste of the beautiful costumes and lithe dancers:
We raised quite a bit of money for the flood victims, but it is never enough. We are using eggcups to bail the ocean.