In the vibrant city of Bangkok, Thailand, on the evenings of November 27 and 28, 2023, the Loy Krathong festival unfolded with a fascinating fusion of tradition and innovation. This age-old celebration, known for illuminating the city’s canals and rivers with the warm glow of floating baskets, took a modern turn as children opted for virtual rafts instead of physical ‘krathongs.’ Approximately 3,000 digital versions were meticulously designed by participants, who created colorful drawings of ‘krathongs,’ scanned them into computers, and joyfully witnessed their creations projected onto the shimmering waters of the Ong Ang Canal.

The motivation behind this digital shift was clear: to tackle the environmental challenges posed by the traditional festival. The aftermath of Loy Krathong typically involved a messy cleanup, with canals laden with discarded physical ‘krathongs.’ Eleven-year-old Jirayada Surapant eloquently expressed the positive impact of the digital approach, emphasizing how it helps reduce both tree cutting and waste. Praised for its environmental consciousness, the initiative garnered attention, particularly among the younger generation. The following day, monks gracefully rowed boats across the city to collect physical krathongs, underscoring the collective responsibility needed to minimize waste and protect the environment. Simultaneously, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration introduced a forward-thinking strategy, encouraging the creation of digital krathongs to alleviate the growing environmental concerns surrounding the festival. However, despite the success of this digital initiative, the release of over 600,000 traditional floats into the waters highlighted the delicate balance between preserving cherished traditions and embracing innovative solutions for a sustainable future.