From the Blog

October 31, 2014

Yi Peng Festival

Festival of light in Chaing Mai

 

When: 5th-7th November 2014:  Yi Peng day 6th November

 

Where: Parts of Northern Thailand – Mainly Chiang Mai

Yi Peng Festival

 

Yi Peng (Yee Peng local name or Duenyi Festival) is part of the festival of lights in the North of Thailand. It is an ancient Lanna festival originating from the time of the 14th Century B.E. in the Haripunchai Kingdom.

 

There is quite a bit of confusion about the festivities, it should be noted that this event is not part of the traditional Loy Krathong (Loi Krathong), but it does have a number of similarities. Nor is it associated with the release of sky lanterns at Mae Jo it is in fact a festival unique to northern Thailand and with the ancient Lanna Kingdom.

 

Yi Peng Festival

 

The festival of Yi Peng was originally celebrated in its own right as an event to recognise the end of the rainy season and the end of Buddhist Lent  in recent history Yi Peng now takes place at the same time as Loy Krathong. The event takes place at various locations in northern Thailand, it is here in Chaing Mai the former capital of the Lanna Kingdom where this ancient festival is most prominently celebrated.

 

 

Yi Peng Festival 2014

 

Popular activities for locals on this occasion involve lighting candles in clay holders (Phang Prathip (or Phang Prathit). The word “phang” refers to a small pottery cup or saucer used for putting in wax or oil to serve as a lamp with a wick made from cotton, the word “prathit (Phrathip)” means light. Making lanterns to decorate their homes or the temples, (these are used to pay homage to the five Buddhas) along with the launching of kites or sky lanterns as well as fireworks, making merit and listening to the great sermons of “Maha Chat”.

 

 

There are many different lanterns

  • Yi Peng Festival 2014Khom Fai(Thai: โคมไฟ): intricately shaped paper lanterns which take on different forms. During Yi Peng it was traditional that only monks would release lanterns, but now anybody can do so (there are areas where this prohibited e.g. airports). On Yi Peng Day (Loy Krathong Day) novice monks at some of the temples will release giant sky lanterns some of which will have firecrackers attached to them.

 

  • Khom three(Thai: โคมถือ) are lanterns which are carried around hanging from a stick, also known sometimes as Khom gratai (because they look as though they have rabbit’s ears)

 

  • khan(Thai: โคมแขวน) are the hanging lanterns

 

  • Khom pariah(Thai: โคมปริวรรต) which are placed at temples and which revolve due to the heat of the candle inside.

 

Yi Peng Festival 2014By donating lanterns to temples it is believed the provider achieves one of the three bases of merit,  in Buddhist culture, the light from a lantern represents the moving away from darkness into a brighter future. There is also the belief that the launching of lanterns is a way to dispel bad luck. Some people attach to their lanterns bits of their fingernail and hair. (This is similar to the Kratong in the festival of Loy Kratong) Some will add a letter along with money as a prize for whoever finds the lantern.

 

One of the best places to see a vast array of these lanterns is just in front of the Tree Kings monument, to witness the whole event the best place to head to is at Saphan Nawarat Bridge, but do note it gets rather crowded as the sunsets.

 

Fireworks

Yi Peng Festival 2014Prior to the start of the Yi Peng festival, some temples start to make home-made rockets to pay respect to the Buddha and his hair relic or to mark the Grand Sermon of Maha Chat. Lanna rockets (bokfai) come in a variety of styles. Rockets are fired from dusk onward. There is always a steady continuous noise from fireworks especially firecrackers announcing the Yi peng Festival, all of which makes for a noisy fun filled day.

 

Dhamma 

 

Yi Peng Festival 2014This is another ancient activity held during the Yipeng Festival. There is an old Lanna saying: “Anyone who is not successful with saving up and multiplying his wealth should make this Dhamma Chata which can make him prosper” To do this people will to inscribe the Dhamma in Lanna characters (tua tham) onto a set of palm leaves. Later the inscription would be rubbed with black powder or soot scraped from the bottoms of cooking pots to make the inscription clearer. The leaves are then stacked up together and secured with a cotton string (sai yang). At the approach of the Buddhist Lent or Yipeng Festival, they would wrap the scripture with a piece of cloth and give it to a temple where it would stay, with the hope that the act would result in prosperity and enhancing one’s fate and wisdom.

 

Yi Peng Festival 2014

 

The similarity with Loy Krathong is further emphasized in the fact that on the night of Yi Peng the People prepare floating containers  their name for this festival is ‘Long sapao’ or ‘Loi samphao fai’ bearing traditional offerings of flowers, incense and lit candles which they float in streams, lakes and rivers. The glittering reflection of lights on the water looks like the illumination of some sort of jungle spirits called “phi khamot” (see more about Thailand spirits) at night hunting. For this reason, the people call the act of floating the containers “loi phi khamot”.

 

 

In the Loy Krathong festival the floats are called Krathong and are made traditionally from a slice of the trunk of a banana tree or a spider lily plant and are decorated with elaborately-Yi Peng Festival 2014folded banana leaves, incense sticks, and a candle. A small coin is sometimes included as an offering to the river spirits and some-times people will add a few strands of their hair and or finger nail clippings.

 

This festival now combined with Loy Krathong has made the festivities go on for a few more days (not that Thai’s need a reason to celebrate) than they did in the not so distant past, and the two celebrations combined make for a thoroughly joyful time.

 

 

Yi Peng Festival While the noise can assault your ears, your are rewarded with the sight of the many colourful parades, fireworks, lanterns and shows that are happening almost every-where in the city, along with the smell from the hundreds of stalls selling traditional Lanna and Thai fair.

 

‘To top it all being able to participate and witness the launch of thousands of floating lanterns and Krathong’s on both the water and in the night sky makes a brilliant and heart-warming spectacle and something not to be missed’.

Yi Peng Festival

 

Yi Peng Festival 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A big thanks for the information supplied from a site called Lanna Tradition

History of Yi Peng:

Yi Peng Lanterns:

Phang Prathip: 

Making a loi sapao: 

Making a floating Lantern: 

Activities in some temples: 

For more on what to see in Chaing Mai and events see schedule:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

A big thanks for the information supplied from a site called Lanna Tradition

History of Yi Peng: http://library.cmu.ac.th/ntic/en_lannatradition/yeepeng-history.php

Yi Peng Lanterns: http://library.cmu.ac.th/ntic/en_lannatradition/yeepeng-chomyeepeng.php

Phang Prathip: http://library.cmu.ac.th/ntic/en_lannatradition/yeepeng-pangpratis.php

Making a loi sapao: http://library.cmu.ac.th/ntic/en_lannatradition/yeepeng-sapuo.php

Making a floating Lantern: http://library.cmu.ac.th/ntic/en_lannatradition/yeepeng-wowhome.php

Activities in some temples: http://library.cmu.ac.th/ntic/en_lannatradition/yeepeng-activityattemple.php

For more on what to see in Chaing Mai and events schedule see: http://www.thelongestwayhome.com/travel-guides/thailand/chiang-mai/yi-peng-festival-in-chiang-mai.html

 

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