Flood-ravaged Thailand prays to water goddess


Each year as the monsoon draws to an end, Thais thank the water goddess for sustaining life. But with deadly floods now plaguing the kingdom, many feel she has been a little too generous of late. The centuries-old Loi Krathong festival is usually an occasion for celebration with ornately-decorated traditional banana-leaf lanterns set adrift in rivers, canals and lakes under the night sky. This year it is a reminder of the kingdom’s bitter-sweet relationship with water, which has left more than 500 people dead and wreaked havoc in the worst flooding to befall the nation in half a century.
The festival, which also aims to seek forgiveness for polluting the precious resource, comes as questions mount over successive governments’ management of water development and urban planning. “I apologised to the goddess of water, thanked her for giving us water to use and wished all the bad luck to go away,” said Usanee Krapukthong, who launched her lantern on a lake in a Bangkok park. “I wished my house and also the whole country would be dry,” said the 37-year-old expectant mother. “Normally I do it at a river, but this year I escaped the floods to come here.” The authorities in the capital city of 12 million asked people not to launch their lanterns in canals and streets that have been transformed into rivers, to avoid blocking drains and adding to the rubbish problem. Many – though not all – heeded their call. Despite the brave faces, it was a much more subdued affair this year.