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Thailand Nominates Loy Krathong Festival and Muay Thai for UNESCO Recognition

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In a significant cultural initiative, Thailand is gearing up to propose the inclusion of two cherished aspects of its heritage— the annual Loy Krathong festival and the ancient martial art of Muay Thai— to UNESCO’s prestigious intangible cultural heritage list. Department of Cultural Promotion Director-General Kowit Phakamas recently revealed that the meticulous groundwork for these submissions is well underway, with the preparation of data and registration documents reaching an impressive 70% completion.

While the proposal is anticipated to secure Cabinet approval by March of the coming year, UNESCO’s meticulous consideration process suggests that the final decision may take anywhere from 3 to 5 years. Loy Krathong, an extensively celebrated festival in Thailand, unfolds on the full moon of the 12th lunar month. The event is marked by the enchanting tradition of releasing lotus-shaped rafts, or “krathong,” onto water bodies as a symbolic tribute to the Buddha and the water goddess. The festivities are embellished with vibrant fireworks displays and traditional dance performances.

To fortify the Loy Krathong submission, the Cultural Promotion Department has forged a collaboration with the Institute of Thai Studies at Chulalongkorn University. Their joint efforts involve gathering comprehensive information from eight key provinces, ensuring a representative and inclusive portrayal of this cultural phenomenon. The submission package to UNESCO will feature a compilation of photos and videos capturing this year’s celebrations, scheduled for November 27-28.

The subsequent stages in the process encompass the meticulous selection of visuals, organization of academic data, and translation into the requisite languages for UNESCO’s consideration. This strategic move aligns with Thailand’s existing efforts, as the country already has four cultural elements under UNESCO’s consideration, including the traditional Khon mask dance, Thai massage, folk dance drama Nora, and the Songkran festival.

The formal announcement of the intangible cultural heritage list is eagerly anticipated on December 7, during a meeting set to take place in Botswana. This pivotal event could mark yet another significant milestone in Thailand’s commitment to preserving and promoting its rich cultural legacy on the global stage.

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