Tourists and residents celebrate Songkran Festival, the Thai New Year by splashing water to each others in Phuket.

Thais Celebrate Songkran, The Thai New Year

Songkran or Thai New Year is one of the most important holidays in the country. Although it is usually known today as “the water party”, since everyone with their families and friends go out to the street loaded with buckets and water guns to celebrate a pitched water battle, where the objective is to get wet, refresh, purify themselves and above all have fun. The name Songkran comes from a Sanskrit word meaning “to pass by” or “to approach” and is one of the favorite festivals of the Thai people.

The Songkran Festival takes place every year from April 13-15 and is celebrated all over the country, and Thais enjoy festivities at home, in temples and on the streets of Thailand.

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Traditionally in this Buddhist festival only Buddha figures and older people were dipped as a sign of respect, with the intention of blessing and purifying to start the year away from evil spirits, but over time it has also become a piece of party in which no one is spared from the water. The Songkran is a water war that is celebrated throughout the country and kicks off the rainy season.

Water is the most important element of Songkran. Throwing water has become a big part of the celebration. If you visit Thailand during this period, be prepared to get splashed! Crowds of people wander around throwing water using water guns and generally drenching anyone nearby. Paying homage to family is another important aspect of the festival, as many Thais head back to their places of origin to spend time with older relatives. Buddhists also visit temples throughout Songkran where flower-scented water is poured over Buddha images and over the hands of Buddhist monks as a sign of respect.

Songkran is a Buddhist tradition that is celebrated over 3 days (from April 13 to 15) in which the end and the beginning of the new year is celebrated, and water as the protagonist as a symbol representing purification, where no one is free of water, neither monks nor policemen.

In this festival, on the first day, besides spending the day among family and friends throwing water to everyone who passes by, there are also religious events such as processions and visits to temples, where food, offerings and flowers are donated to the monks and Buddha figures, to which water is poured with flower petals on their heads, asking to ward off evil spirits and purify the soul to enter the new year with good energy.

The second day is reserved for the family, where the children go to the parents’ house to ask for their blessing also through water as a sign of respect. To understand their culture, the role of the parents is quite different, for example the sons and daughters work to pay for their parents’ retirement, there is no room for an old people’s home or anything like that.

The third day is when their new year starts, the new year in Thailand is governed by the Buddhist calendar and their year 0 starts in April 543 BC as it is the year Lord Buddha died.

UNESCO to consider Songkran as an intangible cultural heritage in December

Festivities may vary from year to year but as a general rule the Thai capital celebrates Songkran with the Bangkok Songkran Splendours Festival which takes place from April 13 to 15. The official opening ceremony is held at Wat Pho, one of Thailand’s most important Buddhist temples which houses the spectacular gold-plated reclining Buddha. Many other celebrations take place in and around Khao San Road, which is one of the world’s most popular backpacker streets. Events during the festival include water throwing, ritual bathing of Buddha images, processions and performances. A tempting variety of traditional foods are enjoyed during the celebrations.

Songkran is a very important festival for Thais, but it is also very popular with visitors and many tourists organize their vacations specifically around this unique event.

-Thailand News (TN)

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