Nov 25 4 Comments

Putting your sins on a banana boat

My favorite Thai holiday is Loi Gratong. It is today and I am sad it is minus eight outside so that I cannot float my sins down the river on a banana boat.

That is what we do, you see. Beautiful floats are made from the banana tree trunk slices, banana leaves and brightly colored flowers. When the float is ready—looking like a wedding carriage for Thumbelina, we put a small candle and fire crackers on it. Then, full of somber reverence, we walk down to the edge of a river, and put the float on the water. The Buddhist idea is that we put our sins on the float and the river takes it away. The Christian idea is similar, except that for us, the river becomes a symbol of Jesus and what he has done for us.

Elise and Naomi with their home made floats some years ago. Jesus will be happy!

Our kids love Loi Gratong too. They look forward to sitting on the floor at the Partners office every year, cutting flowers and pinning them to the float. The only sad thing is that they will float away in just some hours.

“Goodbye sins!” The girls would say as they watched their elaborate sin-boat float away while fire works lit up the sky, along with thousands of lanterns that floated on the sky. The higher up the lanterns flew, the better your karma would be.

He put eternity in their hearts, says Ecclesiastics. How true I have found that to be. I have never seen a better illustration of forgiveness and redemption than I have seen on the river banks of Thailand late at night, together with thousands who are all so eager to see their sins float away, washed away by the water. The water of life is who I think of. For him I can make the most elaborate display. Because my sins are so many that there needs to be some attractive colors to divert the attention. Happy Loi Gratong!

A year or two later. The girls with their "Gratongs."


  • Rick Granger says:

    It’s such a cool holiday – we miss out on a lot of cool symbolism in Protestantism with our distaste for ritual. : (

  • lynnie says:

    So sweet those darlings!!! I love the sentiments of this process that they have been a part of. How lucky am I that my granddaughters do not have to live a boring life.

    There are so many traditions for you all. Someday I hope that they will see their Hawaiian heritage as well.

    Have a good weekend as we here in America are celebrating Thanksgiving. So Happy Thanksgiving. This is the day the white guys stole all the land from the American Indians….. But we celebrate it here as a day of the good things about the starting of America. I wish you all a very Happy Day of Thanksgiving. I love you all to pieces. P.S.Good read: New York by Rutherford.

  • Ingun Bøe says:

    I miss it. One year Helene put her boat in the little fishpound in our frontyard. Too crowded near Mae Ping river 🙂 I guess that was more than enough for Jesus 🙂

  • Rick Granger says:

    November’s National Geographic Traveler Magazine has a little spot on Loy Khratong towards the back with a nice photo!