Loi Kratong 2012

 Happy post-Loi Kratong! What a wonderful experience we had that evening. One of the things I admire most about Thai culture is their desire to laugh off their troubles and disagreements, and not let anger or resentment fester. Accidents are met with smiles or chuckles or a joke, instead of anger and shouting or snapping. I find that they don't like to hold grudges or harbor resentment, and really like to find satisfaction in the way things already are. On last full moon of November an amazing celebration is held that encourages just such feelings, and we got to be a part of it for the first time ever.

Loi actually means "float" and Kratong is the pretty flower arrangement that is set with one candle to honor Buddha and three sticks of incense, lit and set on the nearest body of water or river. Its meant to honor the river goddess, and if you wish, you can release it to her along with any bad feelings, guilt, or good wishes. I don't know much about the holiday, except it is HUGE in Bangkok-every park and standing room along the Chao Praya are packed with people setting afloat their kratong. Its a beautiful sight to see, and very uplifting if you choose to participate.

Little P was very excited to join the festivities, as I had found him a Thai outfit to wear, and they had a fantastic workshop in school that day where each student made their own kratong. I picked up a shirt for Nate as well, and then an EXTREMELY generous neighbor gave me one of her old outfits too. You KNOW how much I love dress-up, right?

So we went out together for a fantastic thai feast at our favorite restaurant, Suda, and walked around the corner to lovely Benjakiti Park (where I run every morning). The moon was just starting to peek out of the clouds, and there were dozens of tables of kratongs for sale along the way. Most made from banana tree and leaves, others from bread. Children were playing with sparklers, and the water was already spotted with tiny little lights.

My favorite moment was actually when Little P held the kratong he had made and prepared to set it afloat. He's been suffering terrible nightmares this week, so he asked the river goddess to take his bad dreams away. I was so impressed that he took the celebration seriously, and understood its meaning. Not bad for a boy who farted audibly about two minutes later...

We set out a family one as well, and then sat back to enjoy the serenity and feel like we had released some of our problems and worries to the water. I think its just amazing that this culture takes any opportunity to increase positive feelings and release the negative. I wish I could take some of that back home to the States and spread it around, because now I realize how quick we are to judge each other, snap at another person, or not control our tempers. It seems like many Americans take pride in holding a grudge, or like to state to the world that they never forget those who cross them. There is little encouragement to forgive, to use kindness to pave over stressful times, or to laugh and make light of problems.

I'm guilty of all this too, I confess. But since coming to this city I have felt such gentleness and happiness becoming more of my nature, and have embraced it. This place, as chaotic as it is, may actually be bringing peace to me.

So there you have it, all our transgressions and anger, floating away-along with a few fingernail clippings from Nate and a few baht, because that is supposed to help somehow.

So to all our friends and family, we wish you lots of peace this holiday season! I hope you set your troubles aside and embrace the Thai in you. Love your family, be grateful for what you have, and be glad of who you are inside. That's really all that counts.


jen said...

absolutely beautifully said as always and what fun! it must have been so pretty. and philip putting his in the water .. almost made me cry. you have a wonderful family and such sweet little men. xoxox