Suk san wan songkran! Get ready to get wet in Thailand’s traditional New Year’s Day celebration, the Songkran Festival.
Literally meaning “astrological passage”, Songkran is celebrated every April 12 to 15. Though January 1 is the start of Thailand’s year today, the festival is commemorated as a tradition and a national holiday in the country. It is observed nationwide even in the southernmost part of Thailand, but the heart of the celebration is in the northern city of Chiang Mai, where it is observed for more than 6 days.
Throwing of water is the most amusing activity in the Songkran Festival. People will stroll through the streets with water guns or water container, which is usually mixed with mentholated talc or chalk, because monks use it to mark blessings. Some are even on the sides of the streets with a garden hose and drench people walking by. It is a fun-filled activity for all ages.
Songkran is also a time for reunions as most people come home to visit their families, especially to pay respect to the elders. Since it is also celebrated as a Buddhist festival, most people also visit a wat or a temple to pray and give food to the monks. Some Buddha shrines and images will also be cleansed gently with water mixed with Thai fragrance and herbs for it is believed that it will prosperity and good luck for the New Year.
In Chiang Mai, Buddha images are showed off through the streets so that people bathe the images and statues by literally sprinkle water on it as it pass on colorful and decorated floats.
According to religious traditions and beliefs, the water used to cleanse Buddha images is best to throw at people as a sign of respect because it is already a blessed water. Elders believe that when the holy water will bring good fortune and wash all the bad luck when gently poured to the shoulders of the family members.
Some young people, on the other hand, come to believe in dousing strangers and passers-by is good since April is the hottest month of the year, which usually rises for more than 40°C or 100°F.
Most foreign tourist chooses to go to Thailand during this event because of its uniqueness and fun-filled celebration. It has become a party to the people, from the parades to water-throwing, a definitely one-of-a-kind celebration in the country.