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4Hands1World Touring the world, one massage at a time.

Massage class and Loy Krathong

THAILAND | Thursday, 6 November 2014 | Views [590]

Aaron and Dina sending up a lantern for Loy Krathong

Aaron and Dina sending up a lantern for Loy Krathong

We have finished our third day of class at the Sunshine Massage School in Chiang Mai. There are sixteen of us in the class, and we represent nine countries: USA,  France, Germany, UK, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Argentina, Spain, and Holland. The classes are conducted in English, which is fine for everyone except a couple from France who I think are understanding only a little bit of what is said. They seem to be enjoying themselves and learning right along with the rest of us. There is a wide range of experience level variance in the class: little background in massage all the way to experienced practitioners repeating instruction. It makes for interesting conversation.

For those of you less familiar with Thai massage, it is quite different from the Swedish or deep tissue forms that most people are more familiar with in the US. It is traditionally done on a mat on the floor. The recipient remains clothed in loose, comfortable clothing and the experience is not unlike yoga stretches combined with firm compression to muscle groups. After three days in class as both a recipient and a therapist, I already feel significantly more comfortable in my body. The deep ankle ache that has plagued my sleeping hours for over two months is completely gone, and I am able to sit through class and practice on the floor almost completely comfortably now. I will look forward to how great I'll be feeling by the end of these two weeks!

Today is the beginning of an important Thai festival called Loy Krathong. Aaron and I specifically timed our trip to Thailand to coincide with these festivities. One of our teachers, Dot, invited our class to join her at the Chinese Daoist temple after class to receive a blessing and make flower offerings to float on the river. Of course we jumped at the opportunity to participate directly in the festival in a meaningful way, rather than merely watching others (though even that is quite beautiful!). 

At the temple, we invited into the sacred space and separated into male and female groups, standing in order of age from oldest to youngest, men and women  on opposite sides of the room. Starting with the two men, there was a ceremony involving prayer and incense and chanting of a mantra, and then the master opens the third eye of the participants. It is all for the purpose of bringing truth and goodness to your life. We were given lei garlands of wonderfully fragrant flowers that smelled like jasmine.  

After the ceremony, we all created our own flower baskets from a cross-section of banana tree. We folded rectangular sections of banana leaves into a rough approximation of our teacher's demonstration, which we then affixed to our banana trunk section with small nails. It was to look somewhat like a crown, we decided. Then, orchid blossoms are tucked between the points of our folded leaves, and the straightest orchid stem is left intact and inserted in the center of this creation. Three incense sticks and a small candle complete the picture. The little candle looks a lot like the little custard pies you see at dim sum restaurants. Then we had the option of adding a cutting of our hair to send away any bad luck with the floating offering. It took some doing to get a snipping with the very dull scissors. We each added a 1-baht coin for luck.

Then, after a group photo with our creations, we walked down to the river. On the way, Aaron bought a small baggie containing two little fish. It is believed that freeing animals or fish can give you good fortune in your life. At the river, we had our candles and incense sticks lit,and we prepared to release the baskets, called Khom Loy, into the river. Couples should release theirs together. Aaron was also trying to release his little fish, and so asked me to help him hold his Khom Loy. As I grabbed it, it slipped and I half dumped it into the water, putting out the candle. Oops!! I felt terrible. Our Khom Loy did cling together as they started to float away.

Then we were also able to send up a lantern!  So beautiful to see all the lit lanterns floating high up into the sky on the breeze. You light a ring attached inside the 3-foot high cylinder of gauzy material and wait until the flame creates enough heat to cause the lantern to float up. If the weather cooperates, I'll have some amazing pictures over the next two days of what Aaron says are literally thousands of these floating everywhere!!  Unbelievable!!

Tags: khom loy, loy krathong, thai massage

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