Lantern Festival in ThailandCredit: Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Wikimedia Commons "Lantern Festival in Thailand"

Many people have seen the movie Tangled, a new retelling of the story of Rapunzel. And when they watch it, they are amazed at the visual scenes of the lanterns being lifted off on her birthday. The colors and designs and the air about them look so real and magical.

Many times we are stunned by what we see on  the screen. Visual effects has gotten so good over the years. And some of us wish we could experience what we watch and see in real life. 

The lantern scene in Tangled may look ethereal and unattainable, but in Thailand, it's a yearly occurrence. The festival is called Yi Peng and everyone from young to old gets to lift a lantern off and watch them rise and light of the night sky. But besides it being a captivating and beautiful moment, there is a rhyme and reason as to why this takes place.

The History of Yi Peng

For us, Yi Peng happens around November, but on the traditional Thai lunar calendar, it is on the night of  the twelfth full moon of the year. It was traditionally a festival with Hindu background, lifting lanterns off into the sky in honor to some of the gods. 

Later on King Mongkut wanted it to be a festival honoring Buddah, although some of the original beliefs are still retained. When this was widely accepted, people would make ornate lanterns and donate them to the temples. Often times, when they did this, they would say prayers of blessings for their future and for good fortune. 

The Meaning Behind the Lantern Festival

Lifting the lanterns into the sky is more than just a fun thing to take part in and a beautiful scene. It also has meaning wrapped within the festival. Lifting the lanterns off into the sky allows people to let go of all their troubles. Any bad luck floats away from them and into the sky.

Possible Hazards

The most obvious hazard that could take place at such a beautiful festival is fire. Some lanterns become stuck in trees which starts a fire that could be dangerous. They also land on buildings and create damage, which is why it has been outlawed in certain regions. Bangkok outlaws the lanterns on certain times, and the punishment is a bit extreme. For major damage, it's possible to get life in prison. As for minor, you may just get five years in jail, no big deal.

But the Thais have found good ways to stop possible hazards from taking place. Many lanterns are being made with candles that don't last as long in the sky. And when they go out, they drop without spreading. It's a good way to make sure the fire isn't still going when it finally lands.

Why You Should Go

  Some of us have baggage and frustrations in our life that we need to let go. Whether you are Buddhist or not, this festival is a wonderful way to let stresses and worries lift into the sky. It's a mental act of letting yourself be free from what has bothered you and must be cut off.

If you aren't looking for a way to let go of your problems or "bad luck," then it's a wonderful memory to make. You'll get to see the colors and lights you only thought you could see in dreams or a movie. Don't just live life through visual effects, recreate the moment you watch as well. 

Sometimes it is impossible to recreate what you see in the movies. Visual effects are so diverse that they can make something feel so magical and beautiful. But not all of the beauty is only reachable on the screen, many times they take from real life. For where else would imaginations and ideas for stories come from if it wasn't spawned from something we've seen in our life?