As we wind our way through Chaweng’s traffic on Koh Samui, everyone seems to be heading to the exact same place on the island. ‘Loy’ means ‘to float’ and ‘kratong’ is the lotus shaped object made to float on water. Every street vendor has included the kratongs in their offerings to passersby. For the most part, the kratong is made from banana leaves or a spider lily plant and has an array of flowers and candles sprinkled on it. Every family and couple on a scooter balances their elaborate kratongs in one hand whilst zooming amidst the cars to reach the lake. Some add their nails, hair and baht in their kratongs for good luck before they send it out over the water.
We reach the lake and struggle to find an inch of space to park our scooter. The whole of Koh Samui has converged here and the rain has left brown water to slush beneath our feet as my husband and I make our way through the market. We pass pancake makers, sellers of squid and a beauty contest happening on a big stage. We taste sugared strawberries and Japanese crepes with nutella and banana from a Burmese family of six. The entire family are sitting around behind the stand whilst their mother makes our crepes and the father introduces us to his baby boy.
Everyone has their turn to come forward with their kratongs at the lake’s side. Parents kneel with their babies and pray for blessings over their child’s life. Friends gather and send their burning prayers over the lake already strewn with kratongs and lanterns which never quite made take-off. Couples light their wishing lanterns and wait for the hot air and hope to fill them before letting them go. It’s our turn beside the water; we kneel down and my husband prays for our new marriage, a life of God’s goodness and his protection over our lives as we begin our travelling journey away from home for the next years. We send our floating banana leaves and ignited candle out onto the lake to join all the other prayers of the people. It’s time to rejoin the festivities.