Thai festivals in Chiang Mai

Doi Suthep temple There is a saying ” If you have not tasted the Kaao soi or visited Doi Suthep, you have not been to Chiang Mai” The pagoda is a symbolic landmark in Chiang Mai. It depicts the progression of buddhism and of Lanna Thai from past to the present.The Ping River (Thai: แม่น้ำปิง, rtgs: Maenam Ping, IPA: [mɛ̂ːnáːm piŋ]) crosses Chiang Mai. Along with the Nan River, it is one of the two main tributaries of the Chao Phraya River.

Every year (In November) a traditional festival occurs in Chiangmai, called Loy kratong, during which people make little decorated baskets named Kratong, and take them to the Ping river to have them float on the water.

Doi Suthep temple
Ping river

Ping River in Chiang Mai by Night

Celebrating the Yee Peng Loy Krathong in the serene and spiritual way which might have happened 700 years ago can still be experienced at the Buddhist Meditation Center, Tudong Ka Sathaan Lanna, behind the Mae Jo Agricultural University in San Sai District, Chiang Mai. The setting is remindful of the original thanksgiving moonlight festival. Eighteen years ago, a respected monk gathered a small group of meditation followers at this centre to celebrate the Yee Peng Loy Kratong Festival by involving the younger generation so that they would know their spiritual roots. The original intention was to make this event more meaningful than just loud fun, fireworks and alcohol drinking. Through the years, the numbers of participants have greatly increased but the activities have always been very professionally choreographed.  

Every year (In November) a traditional festival occurs in Chiangmai, called Loy kratong, during which people make little decorated baskets named Kratong, and take them to the Ping river to have them float on the water.

Celebrating Yee Peng

Learn to speak in thai about festivals in Chiang mai : Celebrating Yee Peng

Loy Krathong Day is one of the most popular festivals of Thailand celebrated annually on the Full-Moon Day of the Twelfth Lunar Month. It takes place at a time when the weather is fine as the rainy season is over and there is a high water level all over the country.

“Loy” means “to float” and a “Krathong” is a lotus-shaped vessel made of banana leaves. The Krathong usually contains a candle, three joss-sticks, some flowers and coins. In fact, the festival is of Brahmin origin in which people offer thanks to the Goddess of the water. Thus, by moonlight, people light the candles and joss-sticks make a wish and launch their Krathongs on canals, rivers or even small ponds. It is believed that the Krathongs carry away sins and bad luck, and the wishes that have been made for the new year due to start. Indeed, it is the time to be joyful and happy as the sufferings are floated away.

The festival starts in the evening when there is a full moon in the sky. People of all walks of life carry their Krathongs to the nearby rivers. After lighting candles and joss-sticks and making a wish, they gently place the Krathongs on the water and let them drift away till they go out of sight.

Every year (In November) a traditional festival occurs in Chiangmai, called Loy kratong, during which people make little decorated baskets named Kratong, and take them to the Ping river to have them float on the water.

Loy Krathong

Thai language teacher Lah at Loy Krathong

Alongside the floating vessels, decorative lanterns (Kom) also became part of this tradition. There are four different purposes for the Northern Thais to hang lanterns. They are for beauty, to pay respect to Buddha images, to make one’s home brighter, and for propitious reasons.

The Kom Loy is a drum-size lantern similar to a hot-air-balloon. It is made of lightweight rice paper to be able to float in the air, and in order to send it up, a method to heat the air is included by tying a small receptacle underneath the open section of the lantern. Oil is then placed with a cotton cloth. As the oil catches fire and burns, hot air quickly fills the lantern and it soon rises into the air.

Kom loy – Kom fai

Thai language teacher Lah enjoying Kom loy - Kom fai in Chiang Mai

Songkran today is still the most important of all the Thai festivals and holidays. It marks the beginning of a new astrological year and is much in keeping with the old lunar calendar of Siam ( Thai year )
On the first day, firecrackers are let off at dawn and the people of Chiang Mai spring clean their houses.
 In the afternoon a parade of Buddha images from many Chiang Mai temples goes from the railway station to Wat Phra Singh. People toss lustral water scented with perfume and flowers to bathe the images as they pass along the streets.
On the second day there are no ceremonies but in the afternoon sand is placed in the temple compound as asymbolic return of the sand carried out on the soles of shoes and feet of the people. The sand is made into a small chedi for the next day.
The third day is the start of the New Year and early in the morning is a good time to visit the temples and watch people in traditional costume bringing offerings. Outside people place flags in the sand chedi as well as symbolic sticks of support under the Bo trees to bring good luck. In the afternoon the main government organizations hold a procession from the Yupparat School to honor the Chiang Mai governor at his residence by Nawarat Bridge.

Songkran festival

Songkran festival in Chiang Mai

Liangdong festival means giving offerings to ancestor’s soul (Pu Sae, Ya Sae ). Generally, the festival falls on the 14 day in the half of the 9 lunar month, it takes place at middle of jungle or the foot of Doi Kham.  Villagers join donating for the fund of festival.  In the early morning, they lead a black buffalo that its horn is as long as ear to the ceremony area where the people called Dong Hohfor killing it to offer the ancestor’s soul of Lua people (Pu Sae, Ya Sae)

After the ancestor’s soul resides in processor’s body.  Suddenly the processor’s character becomes as a ghost, he will ask to eat raw meat and raw blood from the people without aversion.  It’s traditional culture of Lua people, they always pay respect to their ancestor’s soul every year. *(once a year) During the festival, there are many interested people and news-men coming to see this interesting cultural tradition.  Lua-people believed that the maintenance of paying respects to their ancestor’s soul will bring good luck and happiness to them.

Liangdong Festival in Wat Phrathat Doi Kham

Liangdong Festival in Wat Phrathat Doi Kham

Lanna Thai people join together to celebrate the new temple.  Everyone in the village will go to the temple with “money trees.”  The trees are decorated in ways to make the money more beautiful. 
On the way to the celebration, the people sing and dance around the village while following small trucks with loud speakers. 
As part of the celebration there are many forms of entertainment including traditional dance shows, such as the fingernail dance, music and dancing, Thai boxing matches and games.  After the celebration, the money on the money trees is given to the monks at the temple.

New Temple celebration

A-jaan Lah Joining Lanna Thai people to celebrate a new temple in her village

Thai people believe that when you go to the temple for your happiness and to celebrate, you should make merit by donating money, doing walking meditation by walking around the pagoda or the temple grounds and by chanting with the monks.  While at the temple, Thai people also hit the bells to make merit.  They this will give them a long life and good luck

Hit the bell

Thai culture and vocabulary in thai language school, going to the temple