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Songkran: Thailand New Year

07 of April 2009

Songkran or Water Festival is a Thai traditional New Year which starts on April 13 every year and lasts for 3 days. Songkran festival on April 13 is Maha Songkran Day or the day to mark the end of the old year, April 14 is Wan Nao which is the day after and April 15 is “Wan Thaloeng Sok” which the New Year begins.


Until 1888 the Thai New Year was the beginning of the year in Thailand; thereafter 1 April was used until 1940. 1 January is now the beginning of the year. The traditional Thai New Year has been a national holiday since then. At this time, people from the rural areas who are working in the city usually return home to celebrate the festival. Usually this period is the hottest time in the year. People all over the country celebrate and relieve the heat by playing water together. Songkran days are also family days for Thai people too. Young people of the family pour water on the hands of revered elders and ask for their blessing. People go to temples and pour water with traditional Thai perfume to the statues of Buddha or the monks and ask for blessing.

Songkran is a Thai word which means “move” or “change place” as it is the day when the sun changes its position in songkran-thailandthe zodiac. It is also known as the “Water Festival” as people believe that water will wash away bad luck. The Songkran tradition is recognized as a valuable custom for the Thai community, society and religions. The value for family is to provide the opportunity for family members to gather in order to express their respects to the elders by pouring scented water onto the hands of their parents and grandparents and to present them gifts including making merits to dedicate the result to their ancestors. The elders in return wish the youngsters good luck and prosperity.

Songkran usually lasts for three days, but might stretch to five or seven, depending on where you are in the country.

Today, Songkran is often referred to as “Water Wars.” With its legendary temple architecture and laid-back pace, not to mention the conveniently water-filled moat that forms a giant square around its Old City, Chiang Mai is known as the holiday is unofficial ground zero. Songkran is celebrated with an enthusiasm bordering on pure pandemonium. Thousands of revelers line up alongside all sides of the moat.

During Songkran, Thais visit monasteries and convene with family and friends. But mostly, it is a time when Thais contemplate renewal, by ritualistically “cleansing” each other with water, naturally of any mistakes or misdeeds they may have caused during the previous 12 months. Playing water on Songkran is not only for relieving the heat, pouring water to each other means a blessing for the coming year.

Nowadays, the emphasis is on fun and water-throwing rather than on the festival””””””””s spiritual and religious aspects, which sometimes prompts complaints from traditionalists. In recent years there have been calls to moderate the festival to lessen the many alcohol-related road accidents as well as injuries attributed to extreme behavior such as water being thrown in the faces of traveling motorcyclists.
songkran on the street
The water is meant as a symbol of washing all of the bad away and is sometimes filled with fragrant herbs.
Songkran is also celebrated in many places with a paegant in which young women demonstrate their beauty and unique talents, as judged by the audience. The level of financial support usually determines the winner, since, to show your support you must purchase necklaces which you place on your chosen girl.

Historically, the throwing of water represented respect: Younger Thais would show reverence by gently songkran-thailandsprinkling water or perfume onto the hands of their elders, who in turn would then sprinkle the town is monks, as well as its beloved Buddha statues. But possibly because April is Thailand is hottest month, and possibly because Thais and Westerners have embraced the tradition as an excuse to go berserk, the holiday is heritage and symbolism now coexist with sheer fun.

Some people make New Year resolutions – to refrain from bad behavior, or to do good things. Songkran is a time for cleaning and renewal. Besides washing household Buddha images, many Thais also take this opportunity to give their home a thorough cleaning

There are Songkran parades in each province all over the country.

Songkran Water Festival in ThailandFor more funny videos, click here

(suk-san wan songkran) – meaning “Happy Songkran Day”

Related posts:

Coronation Day, May 5
Phuket Vegetarian Festival
The Thai Lunar Calendar

1 Comment »

  1. Woolala! Looks like fun. But it is such a waste of water!

    Comment by jolin — May 15, 2010 @ 9:55 am

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