My Spiritual Moment: Yee Peng Lantern Festival 2010

If you are not a local and a Buddhist, Yee Peng Festival can be many things to many people who have been blessed to witness and experience it.

As a Buddhist, I grew up in Burma until I was 12, which means I have some recollection of Buddhist celebrations and festivities.  Like Thailand, many festivals and celebrations in Burma are based on Buddhism as well. When I first heard about Loy Krathong (Loy “to float”  Krathong “lotus shaped boat made with banana stalk and leaves”), I was fascinated as I originally thought this was similar to “Thadinkyut” (festival of lights in Burma).  I later learned that “Tazaungdaine” is the similar Burmese festival to Yee Peng, which is a practice and a celebration – a different version of Loy Kathong – by the locals in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Yee Peng, often written as “Yi Peng,”  literally means the full moon night of the 12th lunar month.



My curiosity was piqued when I learned about the one respected Monk’s effort to maintain the Yee Peng celebration as it was hundreds of years ago at the Buddhist Meditation Center, Tudong Ka Sathaan Lanna.  Over two decades ago, Pra Poobej Chana Pinyo gathered a group of meditation followers to celebrate Yee Peng/ Loy Krathong.  He also included many students as a way to help them maintain their spiritual and religious roots.   That this holiday ought to be more than loud fun, fireworks and drinking alcohol.  Spiritual and religious roots?  This is one of the many reasons why we sold everything we owned so we can live in Thailand.

According to legend years ago, Naang Noppamart, beautiful daughter of a wise Brahim in Sukhothi, was married to Sukhothai’s King.  She introduced her faith and practice of sending a krathong down the river which carries with it troubles and sins, but also carries hopes and prayers for better fortune.   The Buddhist King was fascinated by his wife’s practice of honoring the river that he made Loy Krathong into an official ceremony.  In Chiang Mai, the ceremony is known as Yee Peng, which includes the act of sending krathongs and launching tubular like lanterns into the night sky.


 

After experiencing the mesmerizing Yee Peng Floating Lantern Ceremony in Homage to Lord Buddha I felt it  was important to write about it as part of our family travel memoirs, especially for M.

Yee Peng was a reminder of how important it was for us to experience significant events, moments, sights, sounds, people and places around the world as a family unit.  Yee Peng reminded me of our trip to other Holy places, like the Vatican.  Yee Peng also helped me relive my Buddhist pilgrimage I took with my mother to India and Nepal.  Yee Peng made me recall the very reason why we are living in Thailand, particularly Chiang Mai.

It was without a doubt, a spectacular night and a highlight of our lives in Chiang Mai so far.  But beyond the spectacular displays of fireworks and hundreds and  thousands of white rice paper Lanna style lanterns (Kom Loi) floating softly up into the deep night sky as we pay homage to Buddha, for me, it was a spiritual and religious moment that took my breath away and moved me to tears.

As I sat quietly during the Buddhist ceremony, listening to the calming voice of the venerable monk,  I realized that once again I was sitting on Holy ground with my little family by my side. Throughout the entire night I found myself being tearful.  I cried not because I am sad.  I cried because I felt so fortunate and blessed.  I cried because I have been fortunate  to visit majority of the significant sites of Buddha’s life in India and Nepal back in 2008.  I cried because it was in 2008 that I discovered the beauty of Chiang Mai, Thailand.  And here we are in Chiang Mai, enjoying the privilege to visit as many Holy grounds as we wish at any time.  That is truly a blessing perhaps only a Buddhist could understand.   To that I say, I’m one heck of a lucky Buddhist

Though I did not understand the sermon in Thai, I recognized many of the prayers.  I felt connected and in harmony with my surroundings as if I was back home in a Burmese temple, or a temple in India for that matter.  I chanted along with the crowd.   Silently, I said a prayer.  Silently, I prayed for the ability to continue many more good deeds for those who can never repay us.  I prayed that soon, we will be united with my entire extended family here in Chiang Mai, then in Burma.  I prayed that we continue to  have many opportunities to learn, explore, accept, share and care along our journey.  I prayed that we will have the  opportunity to go on our own pilgrimage to India as a family.  Not once, but possibly twice to the same Holy land?  And so, relentlessly,  I continue to count my blessings!

The calming voice of the venerable monk, the chanting, the crowd, the sight of the half- moon semicircular stage lit with monks surrounding the Buddha statue, the smell of bamboo and fresh-cut grass, the sight of the lanterns floating up into the deep dark sky, being surrounded by friends and family, were all part of my spiritual moment that will forever be imprinted in my brain.

 

I often looked over at Jack  & Em sitting close to me throughout the evening.  I was silently reassured that many more awe-inspiring adventures, significant like this one, await us in the near and distant future.

 

What a feeling.

 

We Say Yes to Attitude of Gratitude  

Live Green. Live Small.

Give Large.  Take Little.  

Take Notice. Take Action. 

 

  32 comments for “My Spiritual Moment: Yee Peng Lantern Festival 2010

  1. November 23, 2010 at 22:47

    You have no idea how much this post meant to me! It just oozed beauty and love and peace!!! I’m DYING to go to this, it’s on my Bucket List. It definitely looks like a spiritual experience.

  2. Amy
    November 23, 2010 at 23:54

    Blessings. What a wonderful experience to share as a family.

  3. November 24, 2010 at 00:00

    Chanting and guided meditations were a very important parts of event. It would not be so great without them because they created very peaceful mood. I got a lot more from this ceremony than I expected.

    • November 25, 2010 at 00:04

      Well put, Dmitry!

  4. November 24, 2010 at 02:43

    Great article, I was unable to make it to the event, but it looks like it was a night to remember!, I will link your article back to a page on my site that had information about the event.
    All the best
    Kevin & Rose

  5. November 24, 2010 at 04:43

    Beautiful post, A … really wish I could have stayed the extra couple of days and experienced this with you guys.

    Next year, hey?

  6. November 24, 2010 at 05:42

    Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’ve never been in Thailand during this festival. Looking forward to participating next year.

  7. November 24, 2010 at 11:24

    What an amazing experience, so beautiful.

  8. vew
    November 24, 2010 at 11:38

    Wow! What a great post A, how I wish I could be there… I will try my best to join you guys next year, will you still be in CM though? 🙂

  9. November 25, 2010 at 00:08

    Really beautiful write up, A! So glad you were able to have those special moments with your family. I agree that it was a really powerful service, even not understanding most of it. I didn’t know quite what would happen at the event, but I’m with you that I’m so glad that it had this spiritual element, keeping the celebrating true to its history!

  10. November 28, 2010 at 23:01

    an incredible and lovely post — thank you so much

  11. December 4, 2010 at 04:46

    stunning photos of an event that I day dream about witnessing in person. Thank you!

  12. December 12, 2010 at 18:46

    Absolutely gorgeous! Also beautiful photos- think you just seduced me into wanting to experience that in person! Thank you.

  13. December 15, 2010 at 23:08

    What an amazing experience! And your shots of the lanterns are just beautiful–felt like I was there. Thanks for sharing.

    • December 19, 2010 at 08:44

      Thanks for the comments, Lisa and Grrrrrltraveler. =) It was indeed a beautiful evening (and weekend), and we hope others can experience it, too.

  14. February 6, 2011 at 11:51

    Thanks everyone for your comments. It was truly memorable experience for us as a family.

  15. March 21, 2011 at 18:43

    cant wait to see loy krathong 😉

  16. March 28, 2011 at 15:09

    Just beautiful, and so well captured in your photos.

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