What ti Yi Peng festival?
In Chiang Mai, Loy Krathong is preceded by Yi Peng (The Lantern Festival), during which people release floating lanterns into the sky. It is during Yi Peng that you see locals' homes and public places decked out in colorful hanging lanterns and flag decorations. The act of releasing the lantern and krathong symbolizes letting go of all ills and misfortunes in the previous year, and Buddhists also believe that if you make a wish when you set off the lantern, it will come true.
As part of this festival of lights, there are plenty of other activities that happen all over Chiang Mai. These include traditional Thai dance shows, the official ‘Yi Peng Parade’ around the Old City gate and down Tha Phae Road, live music and handicraft sessions. You can also expect lots of food vendors setting up, firecrackers, fireworks, and hordes of tourists with selfie sticks (particularly around the Tha Phae Gate area).
The history behind Yi Peng
The traditions from which Yi Peng/Loy Krathong was derived come from Brahmanic origins in the religion of Hinduism, Buddhists in Thailand, at the urging of King Rama IV, co-opted the use of lights and lanterns from this faith as a way of honoring the Lord Buddha, as well as a way for the people to release the suffering that they had been holding within themselves over the previous year.
While those in the central and southern parts of the nation have only adopted this practice over the past 150 years, those residing in the kingdom of Lanna (Northern Thailand) had already been hoisting rice paper lanterns for a similar purpose since the 13th century, making Chiang Mai the perfect place to experience this world-famous Thai celebration.
Participating in this event
Yi Peng in Chiang Mai falls on the full moon within the 12th month of the Thai calendar, which usually means the event takes place between late October and November. usually around the full moon, though the date is typically released only a month or so prior, so flexible travel plans are essential for those planning to attend.
Lantern releases, viewing paper sculptures around the moat and at the temples, and other events related to this holiday take place during the week leading up to the big day, so don't worry about having fit everything in within the course of a couple of days.
Yi Peng is a holiday of reflection for many Thais, so keep this in mind when attending festivities by not imbibing alcoholic beverages in excess. In order to release your very own lantern at the organized event at Mae Jo University, purchase one from vendors inside of the event - not from those selling lanterns outside, as they are not allowed.
Use one of the flickering torches to light the lantern and allow it to build heat before releasing it. This will allow the hot gases to build up within the lantern, allowing it to float away into the sky with nary a problem.