The Yee Peng (also sometimes known as the Yi Peng) Festival is one that occurs in November around Loy Krathong and this year, it was held on November 24th. This is an event that people attend in order to make merit, meditate, and release khom loys (floating paper lanterns) which is symbolic of letting go of all worries and making wishes for the future. In Chiang Mai, there is a big event at the Mae Jo University that celebrates Yee Peng and is known for the mass release of the khom loys. It is a truly incredible sight and one that is often associated with this time of year and our city.
So the night began at about 5:30 when five of us headed out in my car to the University. It took us probably over an hour to get there due to all the traffic headed to the same location. When we got to the area, we were directed onto side streets, so I was totally confused as to where I was and where to find parking. At one point I decided to squeeze the car in between some vans to get out and ask a police officer where to go. He pointed up ahead to the entrance, so we left the car where it was...right at the front! It seriously was such a perfect spot. Once we got out of the car, we walked for about ten minutes from the point where no cars were allowed in to the actual venue. Then we had to try to find our friends who had come earlier in the day. This took us awhile actually as there were just so many people present. It was kind of awkward and we felt terrible walking around as people were sitting and trying to listen to the monks while the five of us were trying to figure out where to go. After about 20 minutes we finally found our friends and parked ourselves down with them to enjoy the evening.
When we arrived, the head monk was speaking to those in attendance and he talked for quite some time sharing a message. Then there was a procession that circled the stage three times led by many of the monks present. Next it was time to light all the candles around the premises in order to prepare for the khom loy release. After some more waiting, we were finally all given the okay to start prepping our khom loys and when they said the magic words, we let them go. It was beautiful to see so many of them take off in unison.
Monks on the stage.
Ladies in the procession.
A beautiful flame and the khom loys slowly being released.
Just a few to begin with...
Then there were more...
There were thousands and thousands let off...
Pregnant at 33 weeks made this all slightly uncomfortable, but I totally made it!
Our last two khom loys of the evening.
Our adventure ended with a mass exodus from the event location with thousands of people. Due to our fabulous parking spot though, we were able to get out the area quickly (gotta love the u-turn I pulled) and back home in good time. This was wonderful because as soon as we got back, a crazy massive storm hit. There was intense wind, rain, hail, the power went out, telephone poles came down, trees fell, and debris was blown in all directions due to the storm. But that really is another story, so I'll share about it more next time...stay tuned! :)
These pictures all SOOC (straight out of the camera).