Songkran: Thai New Year Celebration in April

Monday May 1, 2017

Since moving to Bangkok, Thailand in 2006, I get to celebrate New Year not only once or twice but thrice a year! First is every 1 st of January, which is also observed and celebrated around the world, second is for the Chinese New Year in February, and the third one is called Songkran or Thai New Year in April and is the most celebrated time of the year in Thailand.

April 13 marks the beginning of the new solar year and it is celebrated with a water festival. This is a 3-day event that includes fun-filled revelries of water splashing all over the country, enjoyed not only by locals but also by foreigners and tourists alike.

Traditionally, Songkran the celebration is practiced with meritmaking, this include visiting local temples and offering food to the Buddhist monks in the morning. People perform water pouring on Buddha statues as a ritual and represents purification and the washing away of one’s sins and bad luck. This is also the time of the year when people who have moved away usually return home to their relatives and loved ones to reunite and pay reverence to their ancestors as well. Younger people often practice water pouring over the palms of their elders’ hands. I remember how I got to experience it as part of my first Songkran celebration when I went to Surin province. The feeling was amazingly authentic.

In big cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Phuket, the holiday is known for its huge water festival celebrated by young people, locals, and tourists. Major streets in Bangkok such as Silom road, Khaosan road and RCA are closed to traffic and are used as arenas for water fights. So, if getting wet is not in your agenda, better avoid these areas. To enjoy the celebration, here are some of the ‘must-have’ items and tips to observe when joining the water fight:

1. A “Floral Polo” – Songkran’s “official” shirt costume worn with simple or colorful beach shorts. Ladies are encouraged not to wear short shorts and white tops. Everyone is advised to dress appropriately;

2. Plastic pouch – to protect your phone, money and credit cards from getting wet;

3. Waterproof camera – this celebration has claimed so many cameras and you want to ensure that your photos will make it to your social media posting;

4. Sunblock – April is the hottest month of the year in Thailand and sunscreen protection is a must;

5. Goggles – to protect your eyes from water and chalk/talcum;

6. Water gun or bucket – the most important weapon for a water fight, of course!

And most importantly, have fun and embrace the experience of getting soaked.

So, if you want to experience Songkran next year, make sure to book your flights and accommodation months ahead.

To me, “Siam Living” will never be complete without experiencing Songkran in both the traditional way and the water fight festival.

I am wishing everyone “Sawadee Pi Mai” or Happy Thai New Year! Photo Sources: Yahoo, FiveStarV

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