Water-splashing New Year in Thailand
April is a month of celebration for almost all Asians due to the
harvesting of crops with the help of monsoon winds and people have ample
time for fun and frolic in the spring.
Elephants spraying water on tourists
and Thai public to celebrate the Songkran festival
Thai public and foreigners engaged in
building sand pagodas at local temples.
As we Sinhalese and Tamils celebrate the New Year this month, it is a
month of celebration for the Thai people as well. They call it the
Songkran festival which has been celebrated from time immemorial.
Millions of people from across the Kingdom of Thailand flocked to
celebrate the Songkran festival on April 13. It is the traditional Thai
New Year which is celebrated on a grand scale at several popular venues
such as Khao San road in Bangkok, Khao new road in Khon Kaen and Chiang
Mai city. These areas were packed with thousands of Thais and foreigners
The biggest annual event of Thailand, the Songkran festival, includes
the fun-filled water throwing and paying respect to the elders by
sprinkling their hands with scented water as Thais consider water as a
symbol of cleansing for the New Year. There were also demonstrations of
Thai traditional cooking, cultural performances from various regions and
bathing of the Buddha images.
This year, the Thailand Tourism Authority (TAT) organized the
Songkran festival at 13 temples including Wat Pho in Bangkok, Wat Arun
(the Temple of Dawn), Wat Ratchaorasaram, Wat Ratchapradit, Wat
Ratchabophit, Wat Bowonniwet, Wat Suthat Thepwararam, Wat Phraram Kao
Kanchanaphisek, Wat Phra Kaeo, Wat Hanasongkhram, Wat Kanlayanamit, Wat
Sakhet (the Golden Mount) and Wat Rakhang from April 12 to 16.These
temples held Songkran rites and activities including traditional
performances during the festive season.
This year, the Great Songkran Day fell on April 13 and the designated
symbol was Kimitha Thewi, a lady who lies down but not asleep on a
buffalo's back, wearing a jongkonnee flower behind one ear and wielding
a sword on her right hand and a harp in her left. Every region in the
country celebrated the festival under the common theme Cool Songkran all
over Thailand. April 12 is a big day for Thais to accumulate merit.
Thais were engaged in various religious activities such as pouring
scented water onto the Buddha images and monks. It is an auspicious act
to receive blessings for the New Year by offering alms to monks to
dedicate merit to the ancestors of Thailand and listening to Buddhist
preachings. They also engaged in building sand pagodas around the temple
as these could be used later for the renovation of temples.
Many local organizers too organized the Songkran festival in nine
provinces including Mueang-U area in the Udonthani Province, Sai Khao
Chae road in the Phetchaburi Province, Khao San road in Bangkok, Kluay
Take road in the Phitsa Nulok Province, Khao Thip road in the Chantha
Buri Province, Khao Nieo road in the Khon Kaen Province and Nakhon
Phanom in the Nakhon Phanom Province from April 11 to 18.
The ritual bathing of the Buddha
images by pouring scented water.
Thais and tourists enjoying the
splashing of water on each other on the roadsides.
Despite the blazing heat, these areas were crowded with Thais and
foreign revellers. They were involved in activities such as offering
food to monks, bathing the Buddha images, the Songkran procession,
floral parade, bathing and paying respect to elders by pouring scented
water, Thai classical folk dancing show, Songkran beauty pageant,
concerts, selling food and drinks and enjoying splashing water on
TAT Mumbai Office Director Sethaphan Buddhani said “Songkran is a
centuries old festival which marks the beginning of the traditional Thai
New Year. It is a unique event during which we splash others with water
to offer and gain blessings. The word Songkran (Sangkranthi in Sinhala)
is derived from Sanskrit which means 'to pass' or 'to move into'
(transition). It implies the moving of the sun, moon and planets into a
new orbit in the zodiac.”
The Thai people clean their houses and all other public places, such
as, temples, schools and offices to welcome the New Year with a fresh
start. With the dawn of the New Year, Thais go to temples to bathe the
Buddha images and old monks with high veneration. They pour scented
water on their parents and sometimes, it is done with a powdered water
gun. They apply powder on each other's faces and spray water.
A team of journalists guided by Thai host Tim visited the Khao San
road in Bangkok where a number of Thais and foreigners got together to
celebrate the Songkran on April 13. Both Thais and foreigners, equipped
with water guns, soaked one another amid booming music. Most of the Thai
teenagers enjoyed a water battle with foreign tourists. The atmosphere
was playful with friendly water wars amid tight security provided by the
Thai Police and security volunteers. A number of tourists had arrived in
Thailand especially to participate in the water festival which has
become a major tourism attraction in April. TAT had arranged all
required facilities for the participants. All hotels in the main cities
were filled with tourists who were seen enjoying splashing water on one
another. Tourism brings in high revenue during the month of April in