Sydney is so multicultural that every weekend there is some traditional celebration going on in different parks across the city. Two weeks ago we went to Parramasala and last weekend we were able to attend another amazing cultural event called Loy Krathong.
Loy Krathong takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. It is also called Thailand’s “festival of lights” and it is the time of year when the waters around the country come alive with candlelight and look not unlike a massive fairy ballrooms.
The history behind the festival is complex, and Thais celebrate for many reasons. The main rice harvest season has ended and it’s time to thank the Water Goddess for a year’s worth of her abundant supply, as well as an apology for polluting the waters. Some believe that this is the time to symbolically ‘float away’ all the anger and grudges you have been holding onto, and including a fingernail or a lock of hair is seen as a way of letting go of the dark side of yourself, to start anew free of negative feelings. If your candle stays alight until your Krathong disappears out of sight, it means a year of good luck.
To celebrate this occasion, Sydney’s largest water festival, the Loy Krathong Festival, was held in Parramatta at the banks of the river by the same name. The festival attracted more than 12,000 people from Parramatta, Greater Western Sydney and Asian communities from all around Sydney.
The festival started at 5pm but we were there by 7 pm. By then, there were lots of people on both sides of the river.
We started our journey from the main stage where there was some dancing going on. We watched a few shows and then started to look around to find out what else was going on.
I was really drawn to the crowd where there were tables and chairs set up to make your own Krathong that you could put in the river later in the night.
There is no equivalent word in English for ‘krathong’. You may hear people referring to it as a small boat, vessel, receptacle or container. In the run up to the festival, many shops and market stalls will display ready-made Krathongs, or in parts so you can assemble and decorate as you wish. In the past, krathongs were made from natural materials – usually a section from a banana tree trunk, crafted into a lotus shape by using folded banana leaves, and these can still be found for sale around the main festival sites. More recently, Thais have become more creative in their craft and design the krathongs from coconut shells, flowers, baked bread, potato slices, some breaking with the conventional lotus leaf shape in favour of turtles and other sea creatures.
It was really fascinating to see kids and adults trying to make the Krathong. I joined the crowd and here are some of my photos AS took during the process. I really didn’t know what to do but I was happy to watch people and learn. It was fun and it took around 10 minutes to finish it.
I guess at the end it turned out great. What do you think? 🙂
From there we looked at the stalls and check out lots of traditional jewellery making, umbrella making, the art of painting umbrellas and masks, weaving, making a lotus lantern, as well as other stuffs where there were beautiful ladies in traditional dresses explaining what they were doing.
Then we moved on to the food stalls where there was a long queue. We did manage to get some curry puffs, spring rolls, taro spring rolls as well as duck salad and Thai green curry with rice.
With all this food we took a seat on the grass by the river and enjoyed the food and waited for the launching of Krathongs.
Once the official Krathongs were launched , I joined the queue and put mine into the water as well.
The river looked really beautiful with so many different designs and sizes of Krathongs floating on the water.
After that we went to the main stage where we watched Golden Lantern Dance, Candle Dance, Fighting Cock Dance as well as a Thai Puppet Show. All of them were really interesting and fun.
After the show we went and crossed the bridge to go to the other side of the river where they had set up a Thai village as well as amusement rides for children.
At one corner there were fire dancers performing and there was also some free face painting going on. We also heard people singing Loy Karthongs songs in the competition.
Finally we finished the tour of all the stuffs and decided to sit at the top of a slotp on one side of the river and waited for the fireworks to start.
At 9.55, they started the fireworks and it went for more than 5 minutes. It was a really beautiful display. Finally we headed home after a good evening out.