One of the most beautiful traditions in Thailand is the Khom Loy. For those of you who have seen the infamous The Beach movie you will remember the scene where the islanders all lit lanterns and and watched them float away in the sky- this is Khom Loy. Thai people practice this throughout the country and is usually done during a special event or festival, however due to tourist demand some do it year-round. Khom Loy is a Thai word signifying the floating lantern- which is a large balloon made from a light bamboo frame covered with paper. It floats by means of hot air heated by a flaming torch.
Traditionally it is lit during Loi Krathong Festival, which is celebrated in the thousands in Northern Thailand. And although I admire the silent beauty of the tradition and the way the lanterns look as they float away, I really connect with its meaning. They believe that misfortune will fly away with the lanterns and happiness will return to their lives. It's one of those traditions I can't help but feel connected to. What a beautiful symbol to gain peace in your life.
I have wonderful memories of seeing several Thai people holding on to the lanterns, saying a prayer, and pushing the lanterns out to sea in Koh Phangan. The same goes for Phuket, where Jason and I would be having dinner on the coast and watch the lanterns go by. We would always wonder what misfortunes they carried and where they ended up after the light burnt out.
I have several videos of them but they didn't turn out great so I turned to YouTube where I found a beautiful video commemorating those who died and lost love ones in the Tsunami. I was in Phuket and on the Phi Phi islands 3 months before the tsunami hit. The cottage I slept in and restaurant I ate at every day were hit and carried out to sea. I am amazed at how resilient the Thai people are. As we were walking around Phuket in May of this year, I got to witness their ability to not only rebuild their land but also their lives. Their belief in Buddhism and in Khom Loy helped them through this major tragedy and I think would be a great tradition in my own family.