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15 november 2011 09:41
Festival Sheds Light on Thai Customs and Traditions
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam - Students from various faculties in Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD)'s Sawadee Club hosted a 'Loi Kratong' Festival or the Festival of Lights at the Royal Thai Ambassador's residence in Kg Mata-Mata Gadong last night, in an event filled with Thailand customs and tradition.
Loi literally means 'to float', while kratong refers to the lotus-shaped receptacle which can float on the water. Originally, the kratong was made of banana leaves or the layers of the trunk of a banana tree or a spider lily plant. Modern kratongs are more often made of bread or Styrofoam.
The students had the opportunity to experience and witness the stunning annual festival unique to Thailand, which normally takes place in the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar.
The Thai Ambassador to Brunei, Apichart Phetcharatana, together with guests lit the 'kratongs' at the pool area of the residence and released them into the water.
Leader of the Sawadee Club, Dk Hamizah Pg Sabri said the club was established in 2009 to explore the Thai way of life and look at areas both sides can collaborate in, especially in cultural and traditional aspects.
Explaining further on the festival, Mr Apirchart told the Bulletin that Loi Kratong is a big event celebrated annually in Thailand on the night of a full moon to mark the end of the rainy season and start of the cold season. "To float the kratong into the river or pool is a traditional activity for Thais for many years. This year it fell on November 10," he said.
"It originated thousands of years ago supposedly from India. It permeates some aspects of culture and religion but nowadays it is celebrated more as a cultural event. According to popular belief, the purpose was to express ones apology to the river and water as we may not treat nature properly during the year.
Another belief is that it floats away all the bad luck on the running water...before floating them, we make wishes and ask for bad things to go away," he added.
Touching on the relationship between the Thai Embassy and the Sawadee Club, he hopes to get closer with the club and organise more joint activities in the future.
"Apart from promoting bilateral relations, it is an excellent opportunity for the Sawadee Club to learn and get first hand experience on Thai culture.
This is only the beginning of our cooperation and we are thinking about doing some other events next time." During the event, Mr Apichart delighted all the guests as he led them to a traditional Thai dance around the pool with the floating kratongs.
The students were later treated to a dinner featuring an array of delicious Thai delicacies.