Loi Krathong – a flowery tradition
Why is it so hard for us humans to let go of things, concepts, even habits, no matter if bad or good?
It’s probably because most of us have a hard time dealing with change or the consequences thereof. It is hard and takes a sturdy stomach to change things, especially when one doesn’t know what to anticipate. Will the good things one has get even better? Will the bad be replaced with something worse?
During my trip to Thailand, I got to take part in the celebration of Loi Krathong, the south-east Asian Festival of Lights. Loi Krathong could be translated as “to float a basket”. The thought behind these baskets is to give thanks on one hand, by honouring the goddess Ganga, the goddess of water, or –more simply- water itself. There are three seasons in Thailand, each lasts four months. One of them is the rain season and although there are floodings and its hard at times for the Thai people to deal with the heavy downpour, the rain also has a beneficial side to it. It tends to get dry in some parts of the country during summer.
The other aspect of Loi Krathong is the concept of letting go. By floating a flower basket, one is supposed to let go of bad feelings, thoughts and concepts such as hatred, anger, frustration and so on. The kind of feelings, that each and every one of us has felt at some point in their life.
And life in my part of the world might be luxurious in some regards, fast paced in most and stressful in many. So naturally, negative emotions get a fruitful ground. They sneak into one’s life and sometimes they’re like weed. Once they infiltrate the beautiful garden of a peaceful mind, it is very, very hard to get rid of them.
So, what to do?
Of course, a beautiful festival like Loi Krathong is a good symbolic occasion to do so. And for the more superstitious among us, it is probably a welcome opportunity to start believing in the personal letting go. The tradition asks for one to cut off a fingernail and a strand of hair and put both in the basket with a coin. It is a representation of what’s in the past and a plea at the same time. But nevertheless, it often won’t work that easily in our Western society.
So, what I decided to do after partaking in Loi Krathong was to actively work on the letting go. Every day, for a couple of minutes. By asking myself what the root of my negative feelings and emotions could be. By actively trying to understand them and finally, by allowing those feelings without dwelling on them.
One could call it some sort of emotional recycling. Get rid of the things, that you can get rid of, but do it in a mindful manner. Don’t just shove plastic into the paper bin. It’ll come back to haunt you eventually (yeah, we’re big on recycling here in Germany).
So far, so good. I also decided not to make New Year’s resolutions this year, but to start immediately, and for the time being, I am succeeding in many regards. And as nice as some symbolic events – like Loi Krathong or the beginning of the Western New Year might be –it is important to work on issues every day, in every regard. Because we all know, how great it feels to let go of the shit and welcome the good in our lives. Not just once or twice a year.