Yi Peng Lantern Festival

By Sharon Schweitzer

Yi Peng Festival is a Thai celebration held on the evening of the twelfth month’s full moon in the traditional lunar calendar. It is an ancient celebration that was adapted from Brahmin origins and is inextricably linked with Thai Lanna culture. The Lanna culture dates back to the 13th century and is based on Buddhist and Hindu customs. Despite the fact that this is not actually a public holiday in Thailand, and since it is based on the lunar calendar the date varies somewhat every year but usually falls in late October or November.

The ‘Celebration of Lights’ was adapted from Brahmin starting points and has strong ties to the ancient Lanna Kingdom. Yee Peng was once celebrated as a separate event to mark the end of the storm season and the beginning of the cool season; however, it is now celebrated in conjunction with Loy Krathong.

By definition, a krathong is traditionally a small floating container fashioned of leaves which is made to hold a small portion of goods like a traditional Thai dish (such as hor mok) or dessert. The traditional krathong used for floating at the festival are made from a slice of a banana tree trunk or a spider lily plant. A candle and incense stick are placed in the middle and lit before the lantern is launched into the water.

Brilliant lamp shows are set up at the “Three Kings Monument,” “Thapae Gate,” and various doors around the canal that encompasses Chiang Mai’s Old Town area. Coconut leaves and blossoms adorn the front passageways of sanctuaries and families.

On Yi Peng Day — the evening of the full moon for Loy Krathong,— lights or candles are also lit and placed at entrances to shops, homes, and temples. Making the lamps or donating them to sanctuaries is one method of gaining merit, and the radiance of light is important in Buddhist culture because it addresses the transition from obscurity to a more promising future.


Photots by nationaltoday.com and jacadatravel.com

Sharon Schweitzer JD, is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Sharon served as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.

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