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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.

songkran-thailand

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”

Chakri Day

06 of April 2009

chakri-dayThe anniversary of the founding of the Chakri Dynasty falls on 6 April. Thailand has a national holiday to celebrate, and Bangkok gets especially festive as it also marks the day it was established as the capital in 1782.

On Chakri Day, the king and other members of the royal family preside over a religious ceremony honouring the previous kings. Thai people are generally very patriotic and Chakri Day is a holiday which gives many people the opportunity to pay respects to the various monarchs who played important roles in shaping Thailand.

Although all the kings are considered to have made significant contributions in one form or another, I’ve listed brief details of the most prominent kings in the Chakri Dynasty.

The Dynasty
Present Chakri dynasty of Thailand was founded by Phra Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke or King Rama I, who came to the throne on April 6, 1782. During his reign of 28 years.  He was the monarch who established Bangkok as the capital of Thailand, and this is the most long-lasting creation, which gains popularity as the “City of Angels”. King Rama I passed away on September 7, 1809 at the age of 72.

King Rama I is son, Phra Buddha Loetla Naphalai, or Rama II, then acceded to the throne. It was during his reign chakri daythat a renaissance of Thai arts and culture came about, especially in literature. The King himself was a man gifted with artistic talent. Phra Nang Klao came next. He fortified the country with a strong defense force and commissioned many buildings. It was during his reign that Thai arts reached the highest peak since Ayutthaya period. It is said that the reigns of King Rama II and III constituted a Golden Age of Literature and Arts, similar to King Narai is in Ayutthaya. King Rama III or Phra Nang klao was succeeded by King Mongkut (Rama IV) who was a bold religious leader. He started the commercial contacts with foreign countries and was responsible for the introduction of western science and modernization into Thailand. Then came King.

During his reign of 42 years, many changes and reforms were made in Thailand. Slavery was abolished, modern system of administration was introduced, efficient law courts were established, education was systematically spread, and he financial system was revised.

King Vajiravudh, who succeeded King Chulalongkorn, further consolidated and developed what had been accomplished in the previous 40 years. He contributed much to the national language and literature so much so that he was sometimes called the poet who was a king. The outstanding achievement of his reign is perhaps a number of new treaties concluded between Thailand and other powers as it helped enhancing the prestige of Thailand. The King also introduced the use of tricolor flag to replace the old red flag with the white elephant.

Thailand Chakri Day

King Vajiravudh passed away on November 26, 1925 and was succeeded by his younger brother King Prachadhipok, the seventh king of Chakri Dynasty who reigned as the last absolute monarch. On June 24, 1932 a revolution took place and His Majesty accepted the proposal of a constitutional regime. On March 2, 1934 the King abdicated and later died in exile, leaving the throne to his nephew, King Ananda Mahidol, who after 11 years rule met a sudden death leaving the throne to his younger brother, King Bhumibol Aulyadej, the present monarch. On Chakri Day, His Majesty King Bhumibol accompanied by members of royal family presides over a religious ceremony performed to give merit to the deceased rulers at the Royal Chapel, then pays respects to His Majesty is Predecessors at the Royal Pantheon and lays a wreath at the statue of King Rama I at the Memorial Bridge. On this occasion, the Prime Minister, Ministers, high ranking officers, students, public and private organizations and people from all walks of life take part in a wreath-laying ceremony and make merit for the great kings who dedicated the best part of their lives for the betterment of their subjects.

Here are  some facts about Thailand:

1. The Thai greeting “sawatdee” was invented during the Second World War. Before that, people greeted each other by asking if they had eaten yet.

2. According to the World Meteorological Organization, Bangkok is the hottest capital city in the world.

3. HRH The Crown Prince, an avid collector of classic cars, has the largest private collection of ”Classic cars” in Thailand.

4. H.M. The King once met Elvis Presley and Walt Disney.

5. HM the King is a renowned Jazz saxophonist who has played with many of the world”s greatest Jazz musicians.

6. HM the King is an Olympic standard yachtsman.

7. The Orchid is Thailand”s best flowering export. Exports of the Orchid are valued at US$250million per annum.

8. According to the Thai media, the estimated public gathering of 1 million people on 9 June 2006, to celebrate HM The King”s 60th year – was the largest public gathering in history to celebrate a royal event.

9. The beautiful Similan Islands in the south of Thailand got their name from Malay language. The islands are 9 in total and the Malay word for ”nine” is – Similan.

10. In Thailand, both Father”s Day and Mother”s Day are celebrated on the birthdays of Their Majesties the King and Queen.

11. Prior to 1913, most Thais did not have surnames.

12. Thailand”s most expensive pure-breed of dog is the beautiful ”Bangkaew”. Half-wolf/half-house dog, the Bangkaew has it”s origins in Phitsanulok province. Premium Bangkaew dogs sell for around 50,000 baht ($1,300). There is currently one in Phitsanulok (Top Father) which is watched by a security guard as it is valued at an astonishing…….2,000,000 baht ($54,000)!

13. According to the ”Guinness Book of Records 1995”, the Thai language has the second largest alphabet in the world. Second only to Khmer.

14. The name Bangkok (Thai language in origin) means ”Village of Olives” (Ban Mah-gork).

15. An English mistake is the ”Maekhong River”. Known in every English book about Thailand – as the ”Maekhong River”, it ought to be called the Khong River instead. ”Mae” already means ”river” so there is no need to repeat oneself.

16. The 1994 Guinness Book of Records contains the entry: the world”s biggest restaurant – the Royal Dragon Restaurant, Bangkok – can serve 5,000 eaters in its palatial dining rooms at one time.

17. According to extensive research carried out in 2001, there is an average of 5.2 cockroaches per Thai house!

18. Nakhon Pathom, boasts the tallest Buddhist pagoda both in Thailand and in the world.

19. Wat Traimitr (Temple of the Golden Buddha) this is the world”s largest solid gold Buddha, cast about nine centuries ago. The image is three meters high and weighs five and half tons.

20. It is illegal in Thailand for women to visit night-time entertainment venues alone. They must go with a man!

21. It is illegal in Thailand for men (and women of course) to go bare-chested in public. You must wear a top at all times!

22. It is illegal in Thailand, to leave your house if you are not wearing underwear.

23. After spending the night together (unmarried couple) the female is entitled to ask the man to marry her – and give a dowry. If the man doesn”t want to get married, the women is entitled to seek compensation ie….money.

24. The man is entitled to sue his new wife in a court of law and get his dowry back, if it is found that the bride had had sex with another man before, and so – not a ‘virgin’ at the time of marriage.

25. Since 1939, it has been illegal to NOT stand-up for the national anthem.

26. Bangkok full name in the Thai language is the longest city name in the world.

27. H.M. The King was born in America.

28. Some barbers close on Wednesday because Thais believe that it”s not good to have hair cut on Wed.

29. Don”t touch Thais” heads if you are not very close friend to them.

30. Point something with foot is impolite in Thailand.

31. Thai calendar is counted on Buddhist Era (After the death of the Buddha). Now 2008 in Thai calendar is 2551.

32. Thai superstitions about color.  Thais are a very superstitious people and there are many superstitious beliefs and customs that have long been observed in Thailand. Some superstitions are about good luckand some are about bad luck. For example, there are superstitions about the meaning of colors and some take it very seriously. Thais believe that wearing the right color on the right day would bring luck. Most people don’t really seem to follow this practice anymore, but some may have a small piece of clothing, like a tie or handkerchief, which is the correct color.

to be continued

This is a train go through bazaar in Bangkok 🙂

Posted by Evgo

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