If you are in Thailand during any festival seasons, you probably see the sky lit up with floating lanterns all over the place as if there were hundred of thousands of stars in the sky. If you have never been there, we assure you it is a truly wonderful experience when you see the glittering sky filled up with hope and goodwill.
In Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand, the Sky Lanterns are known as “Khom Loy”. Traditional Northern Thai (Lanna) people use Sky Lanterns all year round, for Spiritual celebrations and other special occasions, one particular festival, the Loi Kratong festival or Yipeng Lantern festival in which; couples and loved ones gather on the riverbanks to float handmade flower arrangements (Kratong), and release ‘Khom Loy’ together.
The history of the floating lanterns goes all the way back to times of war when Chinese troops used them to signal to one another. They were useful for this as they could be sent into the air but did not remain there, falling back to the ground after just a few minutes in the air, enough time to get the word out that all was well or was not well.
It was not until times of peace when commoners began to employ the use of sky lanterns in everyday activities, using them as a means of sending wishes and prayers up into the sky towards the heavens where they might be heard better. In addition, the sight of the many sky lanterns in the air is a way of bringing tranquility to any family activity or formal festivity, bringing people closer to one another and the beauty of the heavens as many sky lanterns in the air at once imply godliness and heavenly bodies and beings.
Outside of historical value, sky lanterns are also thought to hold good luck as well. It was thought that the longer the sky lantern floated in the air, the better luck they would have, and that the lanterns floating in the air would bring them luck and ease their troubles, pleasing deities and keeping bad spirits away. It was also said that if these lanterns were offered to Buddhist monks they would receive wisdom and knowledge that they did not previously possess, as the light is said to be the light guiding people to the path of knowledge and righteousness.
That’s a brief history of the sky floating lanterns. Let’s plan to let go of a floating lantern and wish for the best of luck for the coming year!