Opinion: Celebrating Loy Krathong responsibly

Uhai Pattanapichai, 53, is the chief of the Phuket Cultural Office. Originally from Bangkok, she has been living in Phang Nga since 1992, taking up her position in Phuket last month.

She graduated from Suan Dusit Rajabhat University with a Master’s Degree in business administration.

Here, she looks beyond the celebrations of Loy Krathong to the meaning of tradition, emphasizing the need to conserve nature and respect the water resources the island is blessed with.

PHUKET: Loy Krathong should be a time for us to reflect on the importance of conserving nature. The tradition is that on the full moon of the 12th lunar month, we ask the river spirits to cleanse us of our sins and the harm that we have done.

Water is the source of all life, so it is appropriate that we come to these spirits to ask for forgiveness and a new start. This is especially true for an island.

The importance of water in all its forms is very clear in Phuket. Equally clear is that Phuket is growing quickly and not taking care of its water resources. Those participating in Loy Krathong must reflect on the importance of water and show reverence for it.

Some of us have fouled this precious resource by throwing rubbish into the ocean, rivers and lakes, or have released untreated wastewater into them. All those celebrating Loy Krathong this year should ask themselves what they have done to repay the gift of life given to us by water. They should ask that, and then be honest with themselves when they answer.

This is a good time to be honest about these things, as the belief is that we can let go of all these bad things in our krathong to establish a new beginning.

Celebrated with this spirit, Loy Krathong also endows our children with respect for the beauty of nature. It is important that families celebrate together, so that kids can have fun and learn the nuances of our culture. Bringing all Thai people together in harmony is an essential part of the celebration.

I know that many people are concerned with the multitude of contests on the island, from krathong creation competitions to the Miss Noppamas beauty pageants. Though celebrations like these are good and create a fun atmosphere for visitors, as well as locals, it is important that we don’t allow the celebrations to overshadow the real meaning of the festival.

To honor these traditions and be truly respectful of the water spirits that are to wash away our sins, participants should only buy krathongs from vendors who have made them with all natural materials. It is important that what we push out into the water is biodegradable, so even if you are making your own, be mindful of what materials you use. Materials such as banana leaves are more traditional and in-tune with the meaning behind the festivities.

— Chutharat Plerin


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