Yi Peng Festival: Floating Laterns
Yi Peng is a festival held in November in Northern Thailand. Yi Peng is Lanna Thai for "second month" which commemorates the second month in the Lanna calendar. During Yi Peng, the Thais release floating lanterns in the sky as a show of respect to Buddha and to let their worries float away. A large release of these floating lanterns is a breathtaking sight. The largest of these floating lantern festivals happens at Mae Jo University, about 45 minutes outside of Chiang Mai, where about 10,000 lanterns are released in the sky. First, there is a ritual and prayers performed by Buddhist monks. After an hour, volunteers walk around and light these torches that are embedded into the ground. When all the torches are lit, then the participants are allowed to light their lanterns. It is a group effort as the lanterns are a decent size and at least 2 people must hold the lantern to prevent it from floating off early. Then, when ordered once again by the monks, there is a joint effort to release the lanterns into the sky. The dark night sky is all of a suddenly illuminated by these little floating lanterns. It truly is an amazing sight. It truly was a magical, touching moment and I am glad to be a part of it.
By Mike Bacos
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