by Alyson Hazlewood
This week New Life celebrated the annual festival of Loy Krathong under a huge, beautiful full moon.
In honour of Loy Krathong, our weekly community workshop was facilitated by Nok from our village coffee shop, translated by resident Selena who is of Thai-English origin, and long term volunteer and Buddhist scholar Jordan who gave us the background history of the festival. Nok arrived laden with flowers and materials that are traditionally used to create floating offerings, to give thanks for all that the rivers and waterways provide people throughout the year.
A krathong is made from a base of a banana plant stem decorated with elaborately-folded banana leaves, flowers, incense sticks, and a candle, and after an impressive leaf folding demo from Nok the whole community threw themselves into this creative endeavour with great enthusiasm. Some people include a lock of their hair or nail cuttings to symbolise the letting go of any negative energy that has accumulated in the body throughout the year, and we were told to make sure we pushed our krathongs far out into the lake, because krathongs that linger at the banks or return to the sender are bad luck!
Later that evening after dinner, the community reassembled outside Mama’s coffee shop and strolled down to the lake with the villagers to take part in the ceremony of launching the krathongs out onto the water. Of course no Thai festival is complete without some exuberant firework throwing or the lighting of traditional Asian lanterns, so we sent ours off into the night sky decorated with poems or messages around the theme of ‘letting go’. It’s a beautiful sight to behold, even in a village as small as ours, and everyone here loves the opportunity to join in with village celebrations.
Strolling back, Nok and Mama thoughtfully kept the cafe open later for us so that we could enjoy some late night hot chocolate and peanut brittle before finally retiring for the night.
Aly Hazlewood is a Writer, Beauty Editor and Make Up Artist from London, currently exploring new ways of living and being. She blogs at http://www.