Last weekend I was lucky enough to zip out of the ashram (yes, my life sounds incredibly difficult, I know — I can barely believe it myself) after our Saturday morning session to meet a friend from the States, Natalie, and a bunch of my favorite people in Thailand (teachers, friends) for the Loi Krathong and Yi Peng festivals in Chiang Mai. This is THE weekend to be in Chiang Mai. It is one giant celebration and it makes me want to stay in Thailand for Songkran in April, but we shall see. (Am I ready for true expatriate life? TBD!)
Yi Peng is more commonly known as the Lantern Festival — an annual celebration of the end of the rainy season and a religious opportunity to make merit and give thanks to the Buddha. What does this actually mean? Thousands of people all over Thailand, but concentrated around Chiang Mai University, gather to release paper lanterns into the air. It’s traditional to thank Buddha, AND make a wish as you release the lanterns — and when you let it go, along with several thousand other people, it is a sight to behold.
As I looked up at the lanterns, floating like gentle, ethereal jellyfish in the sea of the night sky, I thought — how amazing to see all of this positive energy floating up into the spaces between us. How amazing it would be if we took the time to notice this on a daily basis, even if we can’t always physically see it. It was magic.
After releasing our lanterns into the warm night sky, we headed to the Ping River in Chiang Mai city to participate in part two of this day: the release of our Krathongs (crown-shaped offerings made of banana leaves, carrying orchids and tealights) into the river. Amidst the happy, frenetic chaos of Chiang Mai (fireworks flying by our heads, literally), we let our Krathongs go into the river and made a wish. I had two candles for some reason, so I made two wishes. As I placed it into the silty water, the second candle blew out — ha! A lesson in not getting ahead of myself. But if that first wish comes true, I’m pretty sure the second one will, too. Perhaps a reveal in a future post… : )
So after 22 hours in Chaing Mai I was back on the songtaew to Doi Saket, and back to Yoga. There was MUCH studying to be done before our written and practical exams. But a few moments to give and witness gratitude, surrounded by people I love, was all the Thanksgiving I could ever wish for. Perfect timing.