During the three-day Songkran celebrations in Chiang Mai a ban on vehicles travelling on the moat road didn’t seem to stop loads of motorbikes, cars and pick-up trucks filled with people and containers of water from enjoying their annual New Year’s fun – soaking everyone walking along the way.
A merit-making ceremony at Thapae Gate signalled the beginning of the festivities. The ceremony was led by Amornphan Nimanant, the governor of Chiang Mai province, and was followed by a traditional parade, during which the Phra Buddha Sihing image was carried through the streets of the inner city, while residents sprinkled water on the image as a sign of respect.
Later, a traditional Lanna market was set up Thapae Gate, where residents and visitors could shop for local products and enjoy a Lanna Khantoke meal. Throughout the three days of celebrations, fire-crackers, fireworks and music added to the festive sounds and sights.
Although by all reports the Songkran celebrations were quieter this year and saw fewer foreign visitors, there was a notable lack of unpleasant behaviour and violence reported – which in the past have been blamed on excess alcohol consumption.