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On a syrupy morning, an amalgam of bold t-shirts, face-aching smiles and a flood of cool, refreshing water erupt onto a street in busy downtown Bangkok. Sometimes New Year can be a washout… But Thailand’s Songkran Festival starts with a serious splash!
Thai New Year
Celebrated on April 13th, Thai New Year’s Day, the festivities see roads explode with crowds of locals and Farang (foreigners) alike.
If you happen to be perched in the back of a tuk-tuk… you’re a sitting duck… Revellers spray their neighbours with plastic water guns, chuck buckets of water at crowds and generally cause H2O related havoc.
Greetings of “Sawadee Bee Mai”, which means ‘Happy New Year’, hum through the air.
Temperatures soar during April and this country-wide water fight is a cold flannel across the forehead of the nation. Far from dampening your spirits, these water festivities cleanse individuals of any bad luck from the previous year and bestow them with good fortune and happiness for the one ahead.
It’s all meant to be jovial, so if the idea of being sprung upon with a super-soaker fills you with dread, best stay indoors!
In the Sanskrit language the word “Songkran” literally means “astrological passage”, it’s a sign of change within the solar calendar. While the water fights and pool parties appeal to many tourists, Thai’s use this special occasion and extended public holiday to visit friends and relatives and leave the cities behind.
Songkran festival is celebrated across Thailand as well as in parts of China, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia. The first day of Songkran is when the sun moves from Pisces into Aries.
Traditional practices mark the event and include visiting local temples and making offerings of food to Buddhist monks. Pouring water over the hands of elderly relatives, monks and Buddha statues are also seen as a mark of respect.
This is one of the most playful and colourful times of the year and illustrates Thailand’s life-affirming philosophy.
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