UTown’s Town Plaza was a hotchpotch of sights, sounds and smells as the NUS community celebrated the traditional Thai festival of Loy Krathong with food, music, dance — and of course the occasion’s distinctive lotus-shaped floating lanterns.
The event, held on 3 November, was organised by the Thai Language Programme at the Centre for Language Studies, NUS Arts and Social Sciences. Some 250 people attended the commemoration, comprising of students and staff from Singapore and Thailand as well as their friends and family.
For those from Thailand, marking one of their country’s best-loved festivals brought back a taste of home.
Celebrated during the full moon of the 12th month in the Thai calendar, Loy Krathong — which means “floating a basket” — traditionally marks the end of the rice harvesting season. Krathong, hand-made lotus-shaped baskets decorated with candles and flowers, are floated down rivers, canals, ponds or lakes.
The concept of celebrating the harvest has faded away with time. Today, it is more a festival to show gratitude to the Goddess of Water. Many believe that their miseries would be floated away by the lanterns. Young lovers also take the chance to meet and make a wish together.
The celebrations often include a string of cultural activities. At the NUS event, dancers performed a traditional Thai routine featuring the krathong. The pop and rock band, the Mosquitoes, provided a more modern touch. The band consists of Thai students at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, alumni from the Conservatory, as well as guest artistes from Singapore and abroad.
Participants did not go home hungry as there was a free flow of Thai food, snacks and drinks, including Thai milk tea, boat noodles and khao mu krawp (barbecued pork).