Sattahip, 12 November 2010, [PDN]: Ever popular with locals and tourists alike, Loy Krathong or the Festival of Floating Rafts aka the Festival of Light will soon be upon us, at the full moon on the 12th lunar month, which this year falls on November22, at 0:25:18 to be exact, according to the Solar calendar. This year in particular Nong Nooch Gardens is keen to put on an even better and more colourful spectacular than normal. However, they will start their festivities early on Nov20.
A host of local dignitaries assembled to announce this happy event at Nong Nooch Gardens. They included Mr. Chaichan Iiumjarern (Sattahip Marshal), Mr. Niti Kongkrut (Pattaya Tourism Authority of Thailand President), Mr. Sornchai Thongyungyuen (Na Jomtien District Mayor), and Mr. Jirapharit Sodorn (Nongnooch Tropical Garden Pattaya Marketing Manager). The highlight of the festival will be 12 elephants interacting with locals and tourists.
Apart from paying tribute to the Buddha’s footprint on the sandy beach of the Nammatha River in India with flowers, joss sticks and lights, symbolised by the candle on the raft, along with the other accoutrements, the festival venerates Phra Mae Kong Ka or Mother of Water, and asks her forgiveness for abusing the various waterways and seas. More mundanely, the act of floating away the candle-rafts symbolises the letting go of all one’s grudges, anger and defilements and to wash away the previous year’s misfortunes, so that one can start life afresh on a better footing.
Mr. Kongkrut stated that it is a good idea for the festivity of “The Charm of the Stream” for the Loy Krathong celebration to be put on slightly before the exact full moon on Nov22, essentially to cater to the tourists. The spectacular light and sound phantasmagoria is highly popular with the tourists, especially Asians as they tend to appreciate the symbolism more.
Mr. Iiumjarern regards Nongnooch Gardens as a Chonburi touristic showcase; it won top awards at the Royal Chelsea Flower Show this year in London. However, rather than the spectacular blooms, it will be the novelty of the elephants that the tourists will be coming to see this Loy Krathong, as well as the lights and sounds, of course. The tourists will be told the significance of the symbolic acts and also celebrate the benevolence of water to humans and creatures generally. This will be just before individual couples launch their joint Krathongs in the hope that both the rafts and they will stay together in the year to come.