[Songkran Festival] April 13 -15

Songkran

is a Thai traditional New Year which starts on April 13 every year and lasts for 3 days.  Songkran festival on April 13 is Maha Songkran Day or the day to mark the end of the old year, April 14 is Wan Nao which is the day after and April 15 is Wan Thaloeng Sok which the New Year begins.

Songkran means “movement” or “changing” since according to Thai astrology, the sun will move into a new sign of the Zodiac on this day.  Songkran is also called the “Water Festival”.  Water is believed to flow and wash away all bad omens during this time.  Thus, it is a time for cleaning; houses, villages, temples and spirit houses.

In the Thai tradition, the New Year begins early in the morning when faithful Thai Buddhists give alms to Buddhist monks.  After that, they release caged animals, especially birds and fish.  Elders and parents will be visited and respected by their children and grandchildren.  The young pour scented water over their elder’s hands, they in return, wish them good health, happiness and prosperity.  This tradition of paying respect, is called “Rod Nam Dam Hua”.    April 14 is called “Family Day”.

In the afternoon, Thai Buddhists sprinkle scented water on Buddha images.  After that, they sprinkle perfumed water on, or throw clean, cold water over each other.  Songkran is observed with excitement in the North, especially in the northern province of Chiang Mai.

A lot of people from around the country will head up north to participate in the festivals organised there.  A Miss Songkran Pageant will be held and a long and beautiful parade will be organised.

In Bangkok, the Buddha image Buddhasihing is brought out from the National Museum for people to sprinkle lustral water at Sanam Luang, opposite the Grand Palace.  Anyone who goes out on the street is likely to get a thorough soaking.  People believe that water will wash away bad luck, and splashing water over friends or anyone will give them a New Year blessing.

Songkran Do’s and Don’ts

Do’s 
• Do give alms and make merit (or just witness the rituals if you are not a Buddhist)
• Do use waterproof bags to protect your valuables
• Do watch your belongings
• Do use public transportation if you are heading to one of Songkran ‘hotspots’, as traffic will be paralysed
• Do try wishing the locals a happy new year in Thai – “Sawasdee Pee Mai!”
• Do smile and have fun

Don’ts
• Do not douse monks, babies or the elderly
• Do not drive when you have been drinking
• Do not throw water with ice or dirty water
• Do not throw water at motorcyclists, to prevent road accidents

HAPPY  SONGKRAN !!