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Being Mindful on Loy Krathong Festival

meditation center YOU MAY BE looking for a different place to celebrate Yee Peng Loy Krathong this year on Friday, November 14, 1998. Admittedly, the peaceful celebration under the full moon has become "increasingly less peaceful" during the past years. Imagine the serenity and spiritual ease at the original celebration that took place over 700 years ago when the beautiful Naang Nopamas placed the lovely creation of banana stalk and flowers on the current of the Yom river in Sukhothai under the full moon.

Originally the Loy Krathong evening had deep meaning for the Thai people who for the most part made their living from the soil. Today the percentage of farmers has lessened but the Thai are known for their smiles, easy going manner and deep feelings for the royal family as well as loyalty to their own family members.

At the Buddhist meditation center, Tu Dong Ka Sathaan Lanna near Mae Jo Agriculture University in San Sai the setting is similar to the original thanksgiving moonlight festival. The meditation center is a branch of the largest meditation center under construction since 1996 in Prathoom Thani.

Ten years ago Pra Poobej Chana Pinyo, a respected monk, gathered a group of 200 meditation followers to celebrate Yee Peng Loy Krathong Festival. It was a small group but the feelings of the participants were deep. Pra Poobej Chana Pinyo wants the young people to know their spiritual roots. The Thais are traditionally quiet, thoughtful and caring for the younger and elder family members. This holiday should have more meaning than loud fun, fireworks and drinking alcohol.

meditators The students of Mae Jo University have made the Buddhist meditation center part of their student lifestyle. Here they eagerly learn meditation on the weekends and of course take part in all activities of the center. The students will organize food booths and the sale of floats for the Loy Krathong Celebration.

Through the years the numbers gathering at Tu Dong Ka Sathaan Lanna has increased and it is estimated that 5,000 people came to the Loy krathong festival in 1996. Parking facilities are arranged for those who drive to the center. In 1996 a group of teachers from Bangkok Pattana School attended the meditation center at the same time Yee Peng Loy krathong was celebrated.

The activities start in the afternoon with the Tod Grathin for the center. This is the time when devotees donate money to sustain the activities of the center. For the youngsters, a drawing contest where they can express their impression of Yee Peng Loy krathong will be held. Their entries will be displayed at an exhibition.

At 6 pm Mae Jo students as well as other celebrants will exhibit the krathongs they have made from natural biodegradable elements. Local folk music will be played. Krathongs will be on sale for a contribution for those who do not bring their own.

Around sunset 3,000 candles will be lit on the circular terraces of the open field. At 8 pm the setting off the 3,000 Kome Loy or hot air balloons will start. This is a breathtaking sight as the sky fills with soft yellow lights sailing off into the heavens on the cool winds of the winter season. All participants will have a chance to float their krathongs in the lake at the center.

A Khantoke dinner will take place on the grounds. Participants can buy typical Lanna food from vendors who are mostly students from Mae Jo University. This will be an alcohol free event and the evening will end around 10 pm.

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