Sacha invited us to join her and her friends at Yi Peng, which is a Buddhist festival where floating lanterns are released to make merit. Our adventure started at 3pm, when 15 of us headed to the university where the festival was going to be. Because it is a Buddhist festival, we were required to have shoulders and knees covered – fortunately for those who weren’t appropriately dressed, there was an enterprising stall selling shawls right next to the checkpoint! We headed over to the main area and found one of the last spots, where we put a tarpaulin down and waited.
Over the next couple of hours as night fell there was a demonstration of the correct way to bow to the Buddha if you wished to do this, how to light the lanterns, and some chanting and music. The atmosphere was quite reverent although happily it was fine for us and everyone around us to picnic on the yummy food that was available. Then came the moment we had been waiting for – when everyone lit and released their lanterns together. We had seen individual lanterns released all evening, by people outside and by tourists inside who seemed to be ignoring the requests (made in English, Thai and Mandarin) to not light the lanterns until we were told. We thought that the individual lanterns looked beautiful, but it was nothing compared to the awe inspiring sight of thousands released all together, soaring on high…we feel very privileged to have been here! (Totally worth the two hours it took us to walk out through the crowds. Thanks Sacha for inviting us!)
And to really experience it, check out this video: