Thai Lanterns is another phrase that is sometimes used to refer to Wish Lanterns
Northern Thailand could well be said to be the world wide home of wish lanterns – in Thailand, like nowhere else, wish lanterns are widely used all year round for celebrations including breath-taking lanten festivals, and are a part of the fabric of Thai culture .The phrase Thai Lanterns is a Western invention – Wish Lanterns are properly called Khoom Loy or Khoom Fay in Thai.
The largest and most stunning of all Thai Lantern festivals takes place during the month of Yee Peng – the festival of Loy Kratong in Chiang Mai – in which lovers and partners gather on the riverbanks to float flowers and candles, launch fireworks and release thai lanterns together. It is considered good luck to release a thai lantern with the belief that misfortune will fly away with the lanterns. The offering of lanterns is also said to symbolise knowledge, their light guiding revellers on the right path to follow in life.
The symbolism behind the lanterns can be attributed to the religious nature of the festival, and the traditional use of thai lanterns in the country’s history. The festival of Loy Kratong dates back to Ancient days when an early form of this festval of lanterns was based on the beliefs of Brahminism. At this ceremony the people of long ago would devote much time and energy to making their own, strong, beautiful and colourful lanterns, and would then offer the lanterns up at the temples, asking for their wishes to be fulfilled. Saying a prayer, most people would wish to be a brighter, more succesful, and more clever person in the future, with this belief based on the comparison that a bright light can lead one out of darkness in life, and into a lustrous future.
In modern day Thai lantern use, Wish Lanterns are often released with a prayer that one’s bad luck, sins or worries will float far away with the flight of the lantern. The traditional pracitce of casting a Thai lantern off with a wish is continued at lantern ceremonies with different coloured lanterns representing different wishes. Red is for celebrations. Amongst others, green is for growth. Purple is for Opportunity. Pink is for love, and white is for health.
They have increasingly come to be a symbol of good luck, sometimes being released with an address written on the inside of the lantern, so that anyone who finds the lantern once it has floated back down to ground, can go to this address and seek money, in an act worthy of good karm by the user of the wish lantern.
Founder and owner of Wish Lantern UK Robert Laughton was happily engaged to his wife during the Loi Kratong lantern festival, knowing that the beauty and awesome effect of the mass release of Thai lanterns would be the perfect backdrop for him to propose. Him and his wife-to-be celebrated their engagement by releasing a Khoom Loy together.