Posted on 09 November 2011.
AFP Elephants prepare to float Krathongs during the Loi Krathong festival at Dusit Zoo in Bangkok on November 2, 2009. A popular Thai holiday in which candle-laden lanterns are floated along waterways and launched into the skies has been disrupted in Bangkok due to ongoing flooding, but festivities are continuing as planned in some other parts of the country.
The Loi Krathong festival, which is an annual favorite of international travelers, is believed by some to have roots in the Indian Diwali, or festival of lights. It became more widespread in Thailand in the 19th century, and involves floating lanterns to pay tribute to Buddha.
The act also involves honoring a Thai water goddess — something that’s especially poignant this year, given the devastating effects caused by the country’s worst flooding in decades. Most official celebrations run from now though through the weekend in various cities.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) told Southeast Asia Real Time that all of its official Bangkok celebrations have been cancelled, however, along with those in the central Thailand cities of Ayutthaya and Suphanburi. Meanwhile, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) was reportedly planning to move its Loi Krathong events from a central Bangkok bridge to city parks that have not been hit by floods.
The BMA could not immediately be reached by telephone, and there were no details available on the BMA website. Despite the cancellation, authorities are still worried that some residents and tourists could ignore official advice and choose to float their lanterns along the Chao Phraya or other waterways that are close to overflowing and subject to unpredictable currents.
The Thai Culture Ministry’s head, Sukumol Khunploem, has warned residents to be aware of the dangers posed by higher water levels, including possible electrocution risks, according to the Bangkok Post.
The Ministry has also asked that anyone who ignores official warnings against participating should at least collect their lanterns after they are floated, so as not to obstruct waterways that may be clogged, according to local reports. Elsewhere in Thailand, where flooding has not been a problem, Loi Krathong events are still set to take place. A festival in Chiang Mai, a northern city popular with tourists, will go ahead, the TAT says.
Those festivities will incorporate the northern Thai custom of launching luminescent paper lanterns into the evening sky, which creates a dazzling effect. Events in the northern Thai city of Sukhothai are also unaffected. In addition, people in southern Thailand destinations, like Phuket and Koh Samui, will still celebrate the holiday. Loi Krathong events are also unaffected in Pattaya, the beach resort on the eastern seaboard, as well as in Hua Hin, a resort city south of Bangkok. Activities in the western Tak province, near the Myanmar border, and in the southern city of Hat Yai, will also go ahead.
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