Celebrating Loi Krathong (ลอยกระทง) and Yi Peng (ยี่เป็ง) 2013

For more photos and videos from the 2013 Loi Krathong and Yi Peng celebrations, browse the #ลอยกระทง (Loi Krathong), #ยี่เป็ง (Yi Peng) and #โคมลอย (khom loi) hashtags.

On the evening of the full moon on the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar, people from Thailand and parts of Laos and Burma come together to celebrate the Loi Krathong (ลอยกระทง) festival. Taking place during a time when rivers traditionally flood, the festival is celebrated with the construction of small, elaborately decorated floats, called krathongs, that people set loose in rivers to float away with the current. For some, the festival marks a moment to honor Buddha and a chance to let go of negative thoughts as you set your krathong afloat. For others, the krathong stands as an offering of thanks to the goddess of water, Phra Mae Khongkha (พระแม่คงคา).

The Loi Krathong celebration coincides with the Lanna holiday of Yi Peng (ยี่เป็ง) that occurs in northern Thailand. For this night, which is a time for Buddhist meditation or “merit-making,” celebrants launch thousands of paper lanterns, or khom loi (โคมลอย), into the air. The latnerns, often set off in great numbers simultaneously, create giant glowing clusters that drift through the night sky.

The city of Chiang Mai is known for its elaborate celebration of both holidays, resulting in one of Thailand’s most iconic sights: a city aglow with lanterns floating through both the water and sky.