Last November, Kasetsart University in Bangkok witnessed an enchanting tradition. Thousands gathered at the lake within the university grounds for the Loy Krathong festival, gently releasing handcrafted ‘Krathong’ on the water’s surface, casting their wishes and paying respects to the water spirits in an age-old tradition. (Photo credit: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
In Sukhothai, a province located in the northern part of Thailand, the Loy Krathong festival is a key event that the Deputy Prime Minister Somsak Thepsuthin sees as a major tourism opportunity. It was forecasted that the festival, scheduled from 18th to 27th November, could draw in an estimated 750,000 tourists, thereby contributing up to 800 million baht in tourism revenue.
The Deputy Prime Minister, a proud native of Sukhothai, inaugurated the festival and was greatly encouraged by the robust visitor numbers. On the very first day of the festival, as many as 47,064 guests were accounted for. This promising start led him to project that, over the entire ten-day period, the festival could attract a massive 750,000 visitors.
“This exquisite blend of Thai culture, tradition, and tourism that is the Loy Krathong festival significantly stimulates our tourism and economy, especially during the winter season,” said Mr. Somsak. He noticed a considerable number of international tourists amidst the crowd, encapsulating the global allure of this festival.
The focus, as per Mr. Somsak, stretched beyond just turning the event into a crowd-puller. Ensuring the safety and comfort of the visitors was held in equal regard. He urged relevant government agencies to prioritize these so that the visitors left Sukhothai with an indelible impression, compelling them to return.
Sukhothai’s Loy Krathong Day, falling on 27th November, was especially noteworthy as it was graced by the presence of Prime Minister Sretha Thavisin, he stated.
The significance of Loy Krathong stands deeply rooted in Hindu tradition, initially conceived to honor and respect water spirits. In Thailand, it later evolved to incorporate Buddhist elements, paying homage to Buddha alongside the water spirits. The term ‘Krathong’ signifies a small floating basket or vessel. When combined with ‘loy’, which means ‘to float’, it perfectly symbolizes the essence of this revered festival.