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Loy Krathong is held on the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. In the western calendar this usually falls inNovember. 1
Loi" means "to float". "Krathong" is a raft about a handspan in Diameter traditionally made from a section of banana tree trunk (although modern-day versions use specially made bread 'flowers' and may use styrofoam), decorated with elaborately-folded banana leaves, flowers, candles, incense sticks etc. 2
3 During the night of the full moon, many people will release a small raft like this on a river.
4 Governmental offices, corporations and other organizations also build much bigger and more elaborate rafts, and these are often judged in contests. In addition, fireworks and beauty contests take place during the festival.
The beauty contests that accompany the festival are known as "Noppamas Queen Contests". According to legend, Noppamas was a consort of the Sukothai king Loethai (14th century) and she was the first to float decorated krathongs. The Loi Krathong festival is also associated with the start of vegetable carving. 3
The Thai tradition of Loy Kratong started off in Sukhothai, but is now celebrated throughout Thailand, with the festivities in Chiang Mai and Ayutthaya being particularly well known. 4
5 In Chiang Mai Loi Kratong is also known as "Yi Peng". Every year thousands of people assemble to float the banana-leaf krathong onto the waterways of the city, honouring the Goddess of Water.
A multitude of Lanna-style sky lanterns (khom fai) are also launched into the air where they resemble large flocks of giant fluorescent jellyfish gracefully floating by through the skies. These are believed to help rid the locals of troubles and are alsotaken to decorate houses and streets. 6