IT’S A MYSTERY TO ME (How Did We End Up Here)

I don’t get my news and information from any of Rupert Murdoch’s various outlets so I have been reading about the regrets that are likely to surface in a few months when people realize that this new deal is the antithesis of the New Deal which put people to work and began the move out of the depths of the depression.  The future is likely to hold some very difficult moments for those of us who are not  shareholders in billion dollar businesses.   We seem to have forgotten that our government is supposed to be “for the people” , especially for those people among us who need help from their neighbors.  The richest country in the world has just been sold to the richest people in the country.

This lovely piece from Tim Hallinan, which was posted on Murder is Everywhere,  August 4, 2010, offers us some suggestions when we need to forgive ourselves for being a bit too inner-directed.

Rivers of Light

All too often my blogs here focus on the darker side of a country that is uncommonly beautiful, uniquely cheerful, and full of grace.  Despite some of the things I’ve said here, Thailand is a magical place, and the world is blessed to have it occupying its little corner of the map.

At a time of the year when people in some parts of the world dress up as ghosts and vampires and knock on doors to demand treats, the Thais, rich and poor alike, take their gratitude and their prayers to the nearest body of water, and as darkness falls they create lakes and rivers of light.

Loy Krathong (pronounced “Kratong”) may be the world’s most beautiful holiday.  Celebrated at the full moon of the last lunar month, usually late in November, Loy Krathong ceremonializes the deep relationship between the Thais and water, which makes possible not only the irrigation of rice but life itself. As a way of blessing the waters and expressing gratitude, people fashion elaborately cut and folded krathong, traditionally from banana leaves, that are then laden with flowers, sticks of incense, a candle, and (often) a small coin.

The leaves are folded to suggest the lotus flower.  The lotus has powerful symbolic value in both Hinduism and Buddhism.  In Buddhism, because the flower blooms from mud and sometimes stagnant water, it represents the soul’s ability to rise above negative earthly influences and grow toward transcendence.  Krathong are made all day as part of the celebration and then, as darkness falls, they’re carried to the water’s edge, flames are lighted, a wish is made, and they’re set afloat.

People often place their regrets, anger, and guilt adrift with the krathong, hoping for a fresh start.  The flames have also come to symbolize longevity and release from sin.  Prayers drift on the current, along with the wishes. Lovers set their krathong in the water side by side, hoping they’ll glide away together as an omen of the relationship to come.

This may seem like a heavy burden for such a frail craft, but the magic of the ceremony is undeniable as the rivers and canals gleam with light.

And in some areas, the skies light up, too, as thousands of khom loy (floating lanterns) are released, each carrying with it misfortune and worldly cares.  For one night each year, the stars bend close.

By the way, some of the most beautiful images in this post are from a really wonderful site, http://www.thaiw

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4 Responses to IT’S A MYSTERY TO ME (How Did We End Up Here)

  1. I love Tim’s work–thank you for passing on this blog post, which I missed. I love the idea of a holiday celebrating the life blood of water. I think the makers of the film Tangled might’ve known about that floating lantern thing. “The stars bend close”that’s why you’ve got to read Tim’s series.

  2. Beth says:

    Tim is a poet.

  3. Darren says:

    I love Loy Krathong festival of lights, I found a great book on the culture and History of Thailand in Canterbury Tales Bookshop in Pattaya with some great full page photos of the Thai girls in their wonderful colourful dresses.

  4. Beth says:

    Darren, Tim Hallinan is one of eight writers who blog about the countries in which their books are set on their blog, Murder Is Everywhere. Tim posts on Sunday. Leighton Gage posts about Brazil on Monday, Cara Black about Paris on Tuesday, Yrsa Sigurdardottir about Iceland on Wednesday, Michael Stanley, the pen name of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip, about Botswana on Thursday, Dan Waddell posts on Friday about London, and Jeffrey Siger finishes the week on Saturday with posts about Greece and life on Mykonos.

    Their posts are a wonderful insider’s view of the places in which they live.

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