Songkran is one of the most iconic festivals in Thailand.
What is Songkran?
Songkran means “movement” in Sanskrit. This word also means the time when the Sun moves from The Royal zodiac to The Aries Zodiac. This is the starting time of a new year according to Thai’s belief. The Songkran festival is an important event to Thailander. This purpose of this festival is to cleanse the bad things in the old year and welcome the good new year. One of the most interesting events in this festivals is splashing water into each other.
April 13th is called Wan Maha Songkran in Thailand’s calendar. This is the day when the Sun moves to The Aries zodiac, signaling the final day of the old year. April 14th is called Wan Nao, or the day that connects the old year and the new year. April 15th is called Wan Ta-Leung Sok, the first day of the new year. In these days, Thailander’s family try to gather together to honor the elders and to deepen the family bond as well as the neighbor bond.
The differences between provinces
Even though this festival is held everywhere in the country, in differents provinces Songkran is a bit different. For example in North Thailand, the locals clean their house, avoid fighting to welcome a good and prosperous new year in the two first days of Songkran. On April 15th, everyone in the family will go to the pagoda to pray, to hear the preaching and to ask for blessings of the elders in the afternoon, and then ask for the blessing of the head monk in the next day. April 17th is the day the neighbors show their spirit of helping each other in many ways to end the meaningful new year celebration.
In Isaan (Northeastern Thailand), Songkran is considered a religious festival to celebrate May. According to Thailand calendar, May is the starting month of the new year. The monks will sound the drums to signal the coming of the new year at 3 pm of the full moon day. After that, the locals will prepare scented water and splash it at the Buddha statue in the pagoda. Then they will visit their grandparents, their families to ask for their blessings. The ritual will then be continued by the most interesting event: Splashing water into each other for good luck in the new year.
In the central Thailand, throughout the 3 days of Songkran, the locals conduct the religious rituals, do good deeds, release birds, fishes to cleanse the sins before in order to escape bad luck and ask for peace and happiness. The locals also splash scented water into the monks’ hand, bring sands to the pagoda to build a small sand model of the pagoda in order to ask for good lucks, prosperous as well as many luxuries in the new year.
Notes for tourists who take part in the festival
- Wear something neat, simple, for example, dark color t-shirt and shorts.
- Electronic devices and personal ID should be wrapped in plastic bags in order to avoid getting water inside. But it would be your best interest to leave them at the hotel. You should bring a copy of personal IDs just in case.
- Bring some “weapons” to the water fight like water guns, etc…
- Some of the more popular spots for water fighting and some side events
Bang Kok: Khao San Road, Rattanakosin Royal Square, Santhichaiprakan and Wisut Krasat
Pattaya: all over the roads of Pattaya, the beauty and talent contest Miss Songkran
Chiang Mai: all over Chiang Mai streets, the parade of the Buddha statue “Phra Buddha Sihing”, building sand pagodas, beauty contest, enjoy the good cuisine along the Urban Culture street.
Phuket: Soi Bangla, Patong beach, flower ship parade, The beauty contest of Songkran for kids.
Hope you enjoy your stay in Thailand!
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