It is the time of the year when Thailand once again celebrates a unique tradition. This is called the Songkran Festival or the Thai New Year celebration. If you are to walk the streets of Thailand during Songkran days, don’t be surprised if someone throws water at you with or without your permission. This is how New Year is being celebrated throughout Thailand. For 2014, Songkran runs from April 13 to 15. In other Thai provinces like Chiang Mai, it can extend even for three more days.
Traditional Celebration of Songkran
Just before water throwing became a norm during Songkran, there are other ways in which this festival is celebrated. The first thing done by Buddhists during Songkran is to pray in a “wat” or temple and give food to the monks. There are also those who cleanse Buddha images with Thai fragrance. Doing this may bring good luck. Thai fragrance is usually used to clean the images. There are some cities in which the Buddha image is being paraded on the streets and people can throw water at it. In Bangkok, the celebration begins with an official opening ceremony at Wat Pho, one of the biggest Buddhist temples in Thailand. This is where the giant reclining Buddha is located.
There is also a ritual in which the elders sit on a chair with a bowl of water mixed with Thai fragrance in front of them. The younger members of the family or the group will then fall in line one by one to pour water on the hands of the elders. The elder will then say something positive as a wish to the person who poured out the water. As soon as everyone has finished doing the ritual, food will be served. If monks are invited in the celebration, they get to eat first before the rest of the congregation. Of course, just like other huge holidays such as Christmas, Songkran is a day where sumptuous arrays of traditional Thai dishes flood the country.
Tips for First Timers
If you are planning to celebrate Songkran in Thailand for the first time, there are a few things that you have to remember:
• Never bring your gadgets with you or a huge amount of cash. You can bring your phone and credit cards, but you need to put them in a plastic case that you can wear using an ID sling. Make sure to properly zip the case or else, everything will get wet.
• You can never say no to people throwing water at you. Whenever and wherever they want to throw water, they will do it. There are even some others who drive all around the city bringing loads of water with them. They will then throw water at anyone on the street. Commuters are not spared at all.
• Don’t be surprised if it is wet everywhere. As you enter malls or ride a train, it is slippery. During Songkran, this is allowed. Thus, you need to wear the right footwear and watch your steps all the time.
• Moving from one place to another may be very difficult during Songkran. Therefore, you might have to walk. Lots of roads are blocked just for the water throwing activities. If possible, find a hotel that is located near the area of festivities.
• Book your hotel ahead of time or if you are planning to move around the country, make early ticket reservations. This tradition is also about going home to families and being with them. Therefore, everyone is moving. This explains why tickets run out early.
Well, this celebration might be unique and surprising. However, when you are there, you will definitely enjoy every single moment.
To our friends from Thailand, Happy Songkran!
Here's wishing you happiness, prosperity and wealth!