Virtual floats reduce waste at Thai festival

Published November 29, 2023
SAMUT SONGKRAM (Thailand): Lights are being projected on a canal during a festival on Tuesday to encourage people to use digital Krathongs, instead of traditional ones, to reduce waste. A Krathong is an ornate basket crafted from
flowers and banana trunks.—Reuters
SAMUT SONGKRAM (Thailand): Lights are being projected on a canal during a festival on Tuesday to encourage people to use digital Krathongs, instead of traditional ones, to reduce waste. A Krathong is an ornate basket crafted from flowers and banana trunks.—Reuters

BANGKOK: Luscious greens, egg-yolk yellows and delicate oranges flickered across waterways in the Thai capital Bangkok, as virtual projections of the Loy Krathong festival’s traditional offerings reduced waste at the popular event.

The annual festival, celebrated on Monday, sees millions ask forgiveness from the river goddess Khongkha by releasing colourful floats into waters across Thailand under a full moon.

In recent years environmentalists have expressed concern as Bangkok’s already clogged waterways are increasingly choked by the plastic and foliage “krathongs”, as the offerings are known. To combat this, a Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) initiative took a fresh approach to the centuries-old tradition.

Rather than floating the elaborately constructed offerings — which include leaves, flowers, plastic, candles, incense sticks and sometimes coins — people were asked to create digital krathong.

After colouring-in drawings of krathong on paper, or on their phones, attendees’ sketches were scanned and then projected onto the city’s Ong Ang Canal.

“The tradition still remains. But we must integrate the festival to be up-to-date, in order to create less impact and less pollution on nature,” attendee Chainarong Tumapha, 27, said. After colouring-in her krathong, Phattarika Kiltontiwanich agreed change was needed.

“I’m quite concerned since the environmental issues have grown much bigger,” the 23-year-old said. The BMA said about 3,700 images were projected across the nighttime waters.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2023

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