A short but sweet video is our pick for this week’s Video Spotlight.
This footage captures the moment hundreds of lanterns are released into the skies above Chiang Mai, Thailand. The ultra-light paper body fills with hot gas and sends each lantern soaring skyward, the suspended flame propelling its glowing form into the night. As the huge group lifts into the air, the breeze catches the lanterns and carries them peacefully into the night, each light gradually fading to a bright speck, one of many points of light in the evening sky.
The tradition is a major annual event in Chiang Mai as well as in other parts of Thailand. The release of lanterns is part of a festival known as Yi Peng, a holdover from the ancient kingdom of Lanna which used to cover most of what is now Northern Thailand. The ritual has Buddhist origins and the release of lanterns is believed to bring good luck to those who take part.
In addition, the timing of Yi Peng has come to coincide with another major Thai festival – Loi Krathong. The two are now often celebrated simultaneously at the start of November, leading to major celebrations. The festival of Loi Krathong involves the launching of small rafts as an offering. These rafts often contain flames of their own, so both the rivers and skies of Chiang Mai are filled with light during the festivities. Of course, the streets are packed too, so be sure to book a hotel in Chiang Mai well in advance.