Cultural Festivals in Thailand

Thailand's festivals are plentiful, but perhaps one of the most widely celebrated is the Loy Krathong Festival. The basis of this project is to learn the reasons behind this celebration, how it has changed over the years, and why. Although I have lived in Thailand for almost 9 years, a Western environment always surrounded me; therefore I had a lack of chance to satisfy my curiosities of the many Thai celebrations. I joined a visiting Thai friend in his celebration of Loy Krathong with his relatives and friends, where we dressed up in national Thai costume and floated the krathongs we made in Lake Mendota. The ceremony took place on October 31st, also known to the Thais as the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month. The people I celebrated with varied in age, gender, and experience. Some of these people live in Thailand but happened to come to Madison for vacation during Loy Krathong holidays. Some of them was born in the States and have never been back to Thailand before, whilst others were born in Thailand but are currently residing in the States.
In order to maximize my understanding of this festival, I believed that it was important, despite how strange I felt, that I performed the same ritual tasks as is traditionally done. This included dressing in Thai national costume, making a krathong, and even learning how to dance traditional Thai dances. Informing people of my lack of knowledge of Loy Krathong aided me in their eagerness to tell me what the ceremony is all about and how it is traditionally done. During this celebration, I assumed the role of an observer, an interviewer, and a participant. This allowed me to view the ceremony with an etic perspective, as well as an emic one, which in turn, is significant in my understanding of the festival as well as it's changes over time. As with many anthropologists, I didn't perform this fieldwork without encountering any difficulties. These problems mainly revolv…


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