Friday, November 11, 2011

Mixed Blessings For Loy Krathong 2554

Loy Krathong during calmer times in Bangkok

Nothing's improved in and around Bangkok since the October 27th post (Water, Water Everywhere...) - in fact, the disaster has continued to escalate and spread, become more and more of a jumbled mess by the day as millions attempt to do anything within their power to try to hold back the millions of gallons of water steadily seeking its own level as it flows to the Gulf of Thailand.

Young lovers and their krathong
The ironic thing about having the flood waters at this particular time is that these are the days of Loy Krathong, one of the most popular - if not the most - nation-wide observances and celebrations of the year for the Thai.  OK, maybe New Years Eve ranks somewhere as high ("countdown" as some of my working class Thai friends call it) but Loy Krathong is a holiday deeply rooted in the hearts and minds of all dutiful Thai.

For those of you interested in learning the thought and traditions of the festival in more detail, feel free to click either of the two Loy Krathong links above - either will take you to last year's post that explains it all, and today's post will be  little more meaningful for you.  Go ahead... I'll wait.

Not going for that?  Geeez, people are in such a rush these days.  OK, here's the short version: during the full moon of the twelfth lunar month each year (usually in mid-November) the Thai set small floating offerings out onto a river or waterway with candles, flowers and incense to thank Phra Mae Khonka (the Mother of Water) for the blessings the waters have brought them - such as a good harvest - and to make amends for their pollution and abuse of those same life-giving waters.

Picking out a krathong for the festival. Millions are used each year.
THIS  year, instead of going to the banks of the Chao Phraya river or another waterway to make their offering the water has come to them... and in far greater abundance than anyone in their right mind would have wished for, other than perhaps those who sell sand bags for flood control.

A friend emailed me with a valid thought, though: even though both of his homes are flooded (his work home in the city and his family home in another city) and getting where he needs to be is becoming a nightmare he's still going to find some way of making his offering this year.

"I don't know as I've done anything to upset her myself," he said of Phra Mae Khonka, "but if ever there was a time to ask for her help, it's now." I had to tip my hat to him: his world is in chaos on several levels, and he's still sticking with what he feels is right. I told him "You know, it couldn't hurt, and it just might help. Good for you."

Phra Mae Khonka: for what it's worth, I'm asking a favor I probably have no right to ask: pass as peacefully as you can as you flow to the ocean, and give these people a break.

Thank you.

Repeating an image from a year ago, but it's one that triggers a special memory for me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a regular visitor of Thailand, mainly Chiang Mai and Bangkok, for nearly 35 years, average 5-6 trips a year... this is something that I really respect and admire Thais and their way of looking at life. No matter how bad situation may be, they still consider themselves fortunate in another way. The glass is half full and NOT half empty outlook is simply wonderful. I am also Asian, Chinese from Singapore, and I wish I have a little of that attitude. Maybe a couple more visits, I will fully feel the same way as them!!!
Enjoy reading your blog!