The origin of the Sky lanterns in Thailand is connected to the beliefs of the Lanna people. It is believed that they must worship the Buddha relics, Phra That Kaew Chulamanee, on the fullmoon of the twelfth month. However, the relic is stored at the highest of heaven floors. In order for their prayers to reach the heaven, the Lanna people then used the sky lanterns to worship the Buddha relics during the festival. Lanterns are lit and released into the night sky, filling it with sky lanterns creating a magnificent sight. This tradition is well known among Thais and foreigners alike, who are fascinated by the uniqueness of the Lantern Festival.
Today, Lanna people decorate their house with lanterns and small candles (Phang Pratheep) during the festival period. As the regulations for floating the sky lanterns has become very strict in the recent years, people now are not able to float the lanterns in the city.
Lights of Yi Peng
Khomloy / Sky Lanterns
Sky Lanterns is originate from the wish to worship Lord Buddha’s relic enshrined in heaven. It is thought that releasing sky lanterns is equivalent to releasing bad luck. Let go of the negative aspects of your life.
The Lanna people believe that lighting of Phang Pratheep is the act of showing gratitude to all their benefactors. They are thankful of almost everything that benefits them such as the house and walls that protect them. The light of Phang Pratheep is also related to the enlightenment and prosperity. During the festival period, you will notice Phang Pratheep light at local houses in Northern Thailand.
Loy Krathong is to express gratitude to the Goddess of Water, Ganga, and ask for forgiveness for polluting the water. Some believe that floating the Krathong is to worship their ancestors, removing bad fortune from their life, and to make wishes for their future.
- People often put some coins on the Krathong and wish for prosperity. Due to this, there are always people swimming and collecting the coins.
- There is a romantic belief that if a couple floats Krathong together and both Krathongs stay together until reaching the other end of the river/pond, you will be together forever. There is also a nice music video featuring this belief.
Yi Peng & Loy Krathong
The Yi Peng tradition is based on the same beliefs as the Loy Krathong tradition in other parts of Thailand. The main objective is asking for forgiveness from the Goddess Ganga. And to worship the Lord Buddha, which includes the sacred things according to Lanna beliefs.
Traditionally, the Lanna people will use “Sapao” instead of Krathong. Sapao is a small handcrafted sailing ship. The villagers will make Sapao together at the temple. When finished, they will place it on the bamboo raft along with various offerings. In the evening of Yi Peng Day, they carried the Sapao to the river. This tradition is also similar to the “Illuminated Boat Procession” which is practiced in North Eastern Thailand (Isan), and Laos.
Nowaday, the people has adopted the use of Krathong from central Thailand.
Beliefs and Yi Peng Festival
The Forest Entrance
If you visit Chiang Mai one or two days prior to the Loy Krathong Festival, you will notice houses and temples are decorated with arches made of Banana trees or sugar cane. These are called the Forest Entrance. The local decorate the entrance with colorful lanterns, and flowers. According to the belief of Lanna people, the Forest Entrance is built to welcome the Lord Buddha when he leaves the forest and entering the city.