Candles, Lanterns and Gunpowder

By November 28, 20102010, Asia

My little brother turned eighteen on the 3rd. Dad and I were talking about it a couple weeks ago when I had a chance to finally phone home. He mentioned, with glee, that he had given my brother the chance to acquire his pyrotechnicians license as a present. Once you’re eighteen you can take this safety and technical course for your pyrotechnics ticket in Nova Scotia; something a gunpowder hungry teen-aged boy would just love.

This juxtaposed my weekend of the 21st. It was Loi Katom (one way of spelling the Thai Festival of Lights) and my homestay family took me out to celebrate. This animist/Buddhist celebration is best known for floating candles and flowers down rivers, snakes of flame winding down into the pinnacle of night. It is also famous for the large tunnel like lanterns which float like sodium-light stars into the night. In brevity there’s a lot of fire during this weekend, and a lot of firecrackers too.

I was horrified by the uncontrolled sale and use of minor explosives by adults and minors. Seeing young boys shoot small fireworks at tourists’ legs. Watching pedestrians walking into misaimed crackers or the kind of sparklers you spin around like a whip.

The lights in their colorful brilliance outshone the full-moon, and reared from my throat more yelps and squeals of terror than a bucket of frogs in my bed. Yet, the vigor with which I saw the Thai people celebrate the water and the sky and the good things nature gave them, like light, was astounding. They VERY literally like to do things with a bang.

I said to my roommate in the midst of utter chaos and brilliance, we aren’t in Canada anymore!

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