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Insurance Article

Yee Peng Lantern Festival: An Ethereal Experience

November 21 2017
Yee Peng Lantern Festival

Get to know Thailand’s Festival of Lights

Remember the animated movie ‘Tangled’? If you do, then you’ll also remember the scene where the King and Queen of Corona release sky lanterns once in a year, with the hope that their missing daughter would return someday. The spectacle of hundreds of sky lanterns floating against the dark sky was one of the most magical scenes in the movie.

That scene is not consigned to fiction alone, but is inspired by reality. Every year, mostly during November, this spectacle is seen during the Yee Peng Festival that takes place in northern Thailand. Chiang Mai, the city which was the erstwhile capital of the Lanna kingdom, has become synonymous with this festival that is celebrated there with great fervour along with the Loy Krathong festival.

When is it Celebrated?

Yee Peng is the festival of lights having Brahmin origins, and is inextricably linked with the Lanna kingdom. It is celebrated on the full moon day of the twelfth lunar month, according to the Thai lunar calendar. This is the reason why the dates keep on changing every year. It originally was an individual event that marked the end of the rainy season and the start of winter season.

The symbolic gesture of releasing the lantern signifies the ‘letting go’ of all ills and misfortunes of the previous year. Buddhists also believe that if a wish is made before setting off the lantern, then it is sure to come true.

Lantern Types and Decorations

Chiang Mai lights up at this time of the year with candles and, especially lanterns that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Lanterns are mainly of four types: khom kwaen (hanging lantern), khom paad (revolving lantern), khom thuea (carrying lantern) and the most famous khom loy (hot air floating lantern).

Colourful lanterns adorn all the important locations such as the Thapae Gate, Three Kings Monument and other gates that are present around the moat encircling the Old Town district. Candles, flowers, flags and coconut leaves are seen decorating entrances to temples, homes, shops etc. The use of light is noteworthy in Buddhist culture as it is viewed as moving away from darkness into light.

The Main Event

Majority of sky lanterns are released on the eve and also on the day of Loy Krathong itself, but the festivities are spread over three days. The best place and time for snapping that enchanting photograph is at the Nawarat Bridge and Iron Bridge (Saphan Lek), which are hotspots for launching lanterns, from dusk till dawn.

The Ping River adds to the beauty with thousands of krathongs (floating basket made of banana leaves that contains a candle, incense and flowers) floating in the water. This is also a part of the ritual and signals carrying away of bad luck and starting afresh.

The Yee Peng festival is definitely a beautiful sight to behold, but it is also a dangerous place to be in. So many people carrying lit paper lanterns is also a recipe for disaster. Especially as the safety systems are not adequate to grapple with the sheer number of people present.

It is therefore advisable to visit Chiang Mai with the coverage afforded by travel insurance. It will help take care of any unfortunate incident and let you enjoy the festivities at your own pace.

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