One of the biggest celebrations in the nation is Songkran, or Thai New Year. Although it is more commonly referred to as “the water party” these days because everyone gathers in the street with buckets and water pistols to celebrate a pitched water fight where the goal is to get wet, rejuvenate, purify themselves, and most importantly, have fun. The name Songkran, which means “to pass by” or “to approach” in Sanskrit, is derived from this celebration, one of the most beloved by the Thai people.
Every year, the Songkran Festival is held from April 13 to 15, and Thais take part in celebrations at their homes, in temples, and on the country’s streets.
The Songkran Festival begins in Chiang Mai
In the past, only Buddha statues and elderly people would be immersed as a symbol of respect at this Buddhist festival in order to bless and purify them and start the year free of evil spirits. However, over time, it has also evolved into a celebration in which everyone is immersed, regardless of age. The Songkran is a water fight that is celebrated all throughout the nation and marks the beginning of the rainy season.
The key component of Songkran is water. The ceremony now heavily emphasizes throwing water. Be ready to get splashed if you travel to Thailand around this time. People in groups roam the area shooting water from water guns, tossing water, and generally dousing everybody in their path. As many Thais return to their homes of origin to visit their elderly relatives, honoring family is another significant part of the holiday. Buddhists also go to temples during Songkran, where they pay respect by pouring water scented with flowers on Buddha statues and on the hands of Buddhist monks.
In the Buddhist tradition of Songkran, which is observed over three days (from April 13 to 15), the end of the previous year and the start of the new one are both celebrated. Water serves as the main theme and a symbol of purification during this time, and neither monks nor police officers are exempt from the use of water. On the first day of the festival, in addition to spending the day with family and friends and dousing passersby with water, there are religious activities like processions and visits to temples where food, offerings, and flowers are given to the monks and Buddha statues, to whom water is offered with flower petals on their heads in an effort to ward off evil spirits and purify the soul to welcome the new year with positive energy.
On the second day, which is set apart for the family, the kids pay their parents a visit and respectfully seek for their blessing through water. For example, the sons and daughters labor to pay for their parents’ retirement because there is no space for an old people’s home or anything of the sort, which is important to understand in order to comprehend their culture.
The beginning of their new year, which follows the Buddhist calendar and begins in April 543 BC because that was the year Lord Buddha passed away, occurs on the third day.
Songkran will be considered by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage in December.
The Bangkok Songkran Splendours Festival, which is held from April 13 to 15, is the main celebration of Songkran in the Thai capital. However, festivities may differ from year to year. At one of Thailand’s most significant Buddhist temples, Wat Pho, which is home to the magnificent gold-plated reclining Buddha, the ceremonial opening ceremony is place. One of the busiest backpacker streets in the world, Khao San Road, hosts a variety of other celebrations. The celebration features water throwing contests, processions, performances, and ritual bathing of Buddha statues. During the celebrations, a delectable selection of ethnic foods is consumed.
Even while Songkran is a very significant holiday for Thais, it is also quite well-liked by tourists, who frequently plan their trips expressly around this unusual occasion.