Thailand’s first month of mourning for King Bhumibol Adulyadej came to an end on Monday and with it, the official government ban on entertainment and festivities.
It was with poignant coincidence then, that the day fell, not only on one of the country’s prettiest festivals – Loi Krathong – but also on the night of the largest super moon the planet has seen in 68 years. Thais and visitors around the country ventured out in the moonlight to set flower-laden and candle-lit basket boats afloat on lakes and waterways, making a wish as they did so.
Despite the lifting of the entertainment ban, this year’s Loi Krathong was a reflective and sombre affair. Many events were dedicated to the King’s passing, with muted celebrations and a continued ban on fireworks and sky lanterns. In Bangkok, 28 public parks stayed open until midnight, but those closest to the Grand Palace were closed for festivities.
On Monday, the National Culture Committee made recommendations for the country’s first sanctioned festival since the king’s passing on 13 October, stating that Buddhist merit-making, dhamma practice and prayer were appropriate but that the staging the Nang Nopphanmat beauty contest, fireworks and musical concerts were not.
Loi Krathong is held on the first full moon of the 12th month in the lunar calendar, and is usually a joyous event celebrating the end of the rainy season. Monday’s events were a reminder that while the official ban on entertainment and festivities may be over, the official mourning period for the king is one year, and during that time events could well be toned down as a mark of respect.