Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Loy Krathong--repentance and forgiveness

Photo: Lanterns floating into the night sky in Thailand
Loy Krathong in Chaing Mai Thailand
Seeing this National Geographic picture today reminded me of when I lived in Thailand many years ago.  I never saw what the above picture shows, however.  Loy Krathong is a national holiday celebrated in some unique ways to our western sensibilities.  Rather than seeing the "floating lanterns" rising into the sky as in the picture above--I saw it celebrated in Bangkok with floating lanterns on the river.  My understanding of it's symbolic meaning was that it was a time each year that Thais would look at their lives and determine what changes needed to be made to be better.  A cross between new years and baptism in our culture.  It wasn't just a determination to do things differently but was a religious seeking of forgiveness with the hope and promise of being better in the future.  I was invited to Loy Krathong celebrations which would include a riverside launching of small floating lanterns with little things on them including money or other items representing the sins or changes that people wanted to make for the new year. 
I heard that sometimes young boys would swim out down river to collect the things on the floating lanterns for themselves.  I don't know if this was true but seemed likely with mischievous children. 

Being there at the launch of the little floats was magical as they had candles on them and you could watch them go down the river.  It seemed appropriate to me to think about our sins floating away as we remained here forever different because we had sent them away-forsaken so that we could become a better person.  I suspect in the Thai culture that there are those that this holiday has a very serious and deep religious meaning for.  While there are others that it was just fun and did not lend itself to any changes in their lives.  Just like our celebrations for Christmas or Easter. 
I find it interesting and something that we as Americans have in common with Thai people that we both desire to be better peoples.  Though we may have different national religions we both desire to improve both individually and nationally.  In America we have lots of opportunities to change from a wrong or harmful path to a more positive one.  Whether it be new years resolutions or the making of sacred covenants in temples or other houses of worship or possibly visiting a therapist to try to break old self-defeating patterns of behavior.  Let us be inspired by other cultures attempts to do the same thing, though they may have different symbolic gestures. 

The floating lanterns in the top picture must be a variation of what I had seen when I was in Thailand.  Instead of sending the lighted floats down the river they send them into the air like a kite.  I noted that the picture I had seen was from Chaing Mai Thailand and so I asked my wife who had lived there for a while if she ever saw that but she had not.  So possibly that is a new variation of the old tradition.  The idea of sending away our sins so that we can be a better person is appealing whether it is done down the river or through the air.  We then are free to be the people we really want to be not weighed down by the past mistakes.  Free to change as well as free to choose!

1 comment:

  1. those are really cool pictures!!! that is really neat what you pointed out about how though our cultures are so different in many ways, Americans as well as Thais have that same internal drive to make changes and become better people. that's the Light of Christ that everyone has!!! :) it's so cool to see that manifested in people. also i was thinking about how satisfying and liberating it would feel to see your "sins" just float away as you sent them down the river or into the air. that's a cool tradition they have :)


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