Every year around the end of the October and the beginning of the November, Lanna festival, also known as Yi Peng, is held in Maejo University, Chiang Mai. Hundreds and thousands of people gather in the field, and launch lanterns into the sky, showing the respect to Buddha. Numerous lanterns float into the sky: the scene is spectacular and unforgettable.
The launch of lanterns takes place twice during the season: one is for locals, and the other is for foreigners, which will be held a week after the local one, and there well be English announcements. When we were looking for information about the festival, many websites said that you have to buy $100 ticket for entrance if you go to the foreigner one, however the local one is for free. By the time we knew that Thailand loves to make foreigners pay more than locals, so we thought this one is also one of them. Because we didn’t wanna pay the entrance fee, we decided to go to the one for locals. (Why not? 🙂 )
In order to get to the Maejo University, where the festival is held, you have to take tuktuk in Chiang Mai. The place is remote from the city so it will take about 40 minutes. After you arrive the place, you get off the tuktuk, and walk along the river to the entrance. You will see many venders selling lanterns on the street, but you can’t take them inside. Some part of them are made from coils, which is dangerous if they touch the electronic line. You have to buy one inside, which is partly made from combustible rope. After walking for a while, we reached to the gate, and people didn’t seem to care if we’re locals or not. But unfortunately we didn’t know we can’t take lanterns from outside which we already bought, we had to throw them away.
The field of the university was full of people. Although we arrived early, we could hardly find the spot. We almost ended up standing outside the field where many photographers were waiting, but we managed to find some space and sit tightly among the people. The ceremony has started, and monks coming in. They went up on the stage in the middle, and started reading Buddhist scriptures. Even though this event was for locals, there were English announcements in every part. After the praying session, it’s time to light up the lanterns. Every one of the people have their lanterns, waiting for lanterns to have enough power to float, and everyone released at the same time.
At the moment we release the lanterns, they all went up high to the air, illuminating the field so brightly. Each light was getting smaller and smaller, and disappeared into the dark sky at the end. Every one looks up, picturing the scene and taking their breath away. Time went by so slowly the whole time.
Even though the time has passed since I saw the beautiful sky on that night, I still remember how it was, how I felt and all. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life. When you visit Thailand around the time of the Lanna festival, you should definitely go check it out. It’s worth putting it to your bucket list!
Place: Maejo University (Google Maps)