Ghost Stories #2: Loi Krathong
November marks the beginning of my favorite few months of the year in Thailand. The temperature drops significantly overnight and stays pleasantly cool throughout much of the morning. It's also just a more festive time of the year.
The one (major) downside is that the air pollution always skyrockets, with PM2.5 levels jumping to noticeably unhealthy levels. We have air purifiers in the house running 24/7. But in the end, there's no escaping the feeling that the air is taking a big sandy dump in my lungs. It does sometimes make for a pretty mist, though.
Today is Loi Krathong, my favorite holiday in Thailand. Tonight, my wife and in-laws and I will
make buy krathongs—floating banana-leaf baskets with flowers, candles, and offerings—take them to the river, light the candles, and send the baskets on their way under the light of a full moon. As I understand it, it's a gesture for good luck and a symbol of new beginnings. It's also meant as an offering to the Buddha and a request for forgiveness from the Goddess of Water.
As well as the "floating lanterns" that people send upstream, there are the sky lanterns that people send "upsky."
I took the photo above on an iPod in November 2013. That was my first Loi Krathong. As I recall the night now, I'd somehow not had any prior knowledge of the holiday. I'd just been wandering around—alone and aimless, as was my jam then—when it finally penetrated my thick skull that I was walking through a night unlike the others.
Now I get to know that and look forward to it every year.
Last night, my wife pulled me out of bed, and then out of the house, to show me the first smattering of sky lanterns visible from our house. Early this morning, feeling pleasantly cold and making coffee, I looked up and saw a huge moon hanging low in the sky. Loi Krathong is here.
I know there are other things happening elsewhere in the world today, November 8, 2022. But I will be paying as little attention to them as possible. Meaning lies in the maker, someone probably said once. And I’m not knocking whatever meaning you’ve got going wherever you are. I’ve just found something that works better for me over here.
Good luck to us all today. May the water spirits cleanse and start us all anew.
Update: I didn't know there'd be a blood moon in Thailand last night until after I wrote this. It was pretty awesome. Every reminder that we are mostly tiny idiots doing mostly tiny idiotic things that will be forgotten is a good one, in my book.