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Farewell beloved Princess

5,000 giant Khom Loys herald a traditional and spectacular Yee Ping 2008 in Chiang Mai

 

Farewell beloved Princess

 

5,000 giant Khom Loys herald a traditional and spectacular Yee Ping 2008 in Chiang Mai

Story & Photos by Michael Davies and
Saksit Meesubkwang

The magical beginning to Chiang Mai’s Yee Peng 2008 celebrations took place, as usual, at the Lanna Dhutanka Meditation Centre in San Sai on November 8. Thousands of people flocked to the grounds, (causing, of course, traffic chaos and confusion), for the beginning of the ceremonials at dusk.
As night fell, the Krathong parade began, with a traditional drum display, and was followed by the specific and very beautiful Buddhist ritual of prayer and worship for Yee Peng. Thousands of people took time out to meditate in spiritual silence, reviewing the past year, regretting ‘wrongs’ and celebrating ‘rights’ and hoping for happiness, luck and prosperity in the year to come.
Finally, at a firework signal, 5,000 giant Khom Loys were released into the night sky, floating gently upwards and creating an unforgettable and very moving sight.
Over the last several years, the event has become better known and very popular, both with residents and visitors, to the extent that, this year, the municipality provided special Song Taews to transport worshippers and revellers from the city to the site behind Mae Jo University. More crowds, of course, means less room and more disappointed people unable to get in, or out at the end, and it seems that a large number of youngsters began arriving on site after the ceremony to party until late, rather changing the spiritual as well as celebratory focus of the evening’s event. Still, at least the CM Mail’s photographer got a decent seat and a lift back to town on the Chedi’s minibus! The start of his next year’s good luck, perhaps?
Yee Ping 2008 was officially opened by the Mayor of Chiang Mai, Dr. Duentemduang na Chiengmai, on November 10 at the Three Kings Monument in the old city, after which the festivities began in earnest, culminating in the giant parade of floats from all the city’s districts held on November 13.
In between the two dates were more parades, beauty contests, firework displays - everything which makes up this best-loved festival, with parties and events going on all around the river and in the town and Khom Loys being released from every possible direction.
On the evening of November 12, the smaller parade took place, with floats, dancers, music, many different groups of both adults and children dressed in traditional Lanna costume, and even, for the first time, representatives of the Chiang Mai Friends’ Group, also in Lanna costume.
The giant parade took place the following night, and had to be seen to be believed, with tens of thousands of people from all over the province and a very large number of foreign visitors and residents all crowded along the route. Fireworks exploded everywhere, Khom Loys filled the skies, and Krathongs floated gently on the river and the moat.
It was reported that an alcohol and smoking ban was in place along the route but many people seemed unaware of this - and also unaware of the authorities’ ban on releasing Khom Loys before 9.30.p.m. Altogether though it was an amazing night to end Loy Krathong 2008.