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Songkran Water Festival of Thailand

Updated on April 9, 2015
Shooting water guns at the Songkran Festival
Shooting water guns at the Songkran Festival | Source

Buddhist Rite or Water Fight? The Annual Songkran Festival of Thailand

Every April, the citizens of Thailand celebrate the New Year with the Songkran Festival, which is possibly the largest water-fight festival in the world! It is estimated that over 140,000 tourists and 1.26 million Thais participate each year. The festival lasts between 3 and 10 days, depending on the area and activities planned.

Songkran, which means "Solar Year" in Sanskrit, is also "Public Spring Cleaning Day". Based on a religious belief, Songkran and Public Spring Cleaning Day is a time where anything that is old and useless must be thrown away, or it brings bad luck to the owner.

Cleansing of Buddha

The Songkran Festival begins with an opening ceremony and procession. Following the parade, images of Buddha are bathed with scented water.

Scented water being offered at a Buddhist temple
Scented water being offered at a Buddhist temple | Source

In ancient times, water was collected after it ran off the Buddha, then poured over the elderly. They were then dressed in new apparel by the young as a token of respect. Today, the young pour scented water into the hands of the elderly as a token of respect and good luck.

Street party at the Songkran Water Festival
Street party at the Songkran Water Festival | Source

Cleansing of the People

The Water Fight!

In addition to the bathing of Buddha, festival-goers roam the streets on foot & by car, throwing water on each other and passer-bys. Water guns, hoses and buckets are also used, as the point of the celebration is to get soaking wet. Some communities also host street parties, cultural performances, or Thai food tasting, for those times when you want to dry off and relax.

Tips to Make Certain You Have Fun

If you're planning to attend the festival, here are some tips to make certain you have a great time

GoPro HERO3: White Edition - 131'/ 40m Waterproof Housing
GoPro HERO3: White Edition - 131'/ 40m Waterproof Housing

A water proof camera is a must, and this one fits the ticket! Not only does it take still shots, but also Wi-Fi and full HD movies with surround sounds. An at just 2/6 ounces, it is lightweight enough to carry with ease.

  • Bring a water-proof camera. Don't bring a regular camera with you, as iIt will get ruined by the water!
  • Wear old & comfortable clothes that you don't mind getting wet
  • Wear shoes that are comfortable on your feet for hours on end, especially when wet
  • Wear sunscreen, as this is the hottest time of year in Thailand
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses. The hat to protect your head from the sun, and the glasses to protect your eyes from the water
  • Don't drive a bike. The road will get slippery, and there's a good chance you could crash
  • Have a lot of patience! There will be hundreds of thousands of people in attendance. This will cause traffic jams, and long lines at restaurants and stores
  • Make your travel plans NOW, as several million people attend each year. Hotels and flights are in short supply, especially the closer you get to the event
  • The most important tip - plan on having fun!

Don't Forget Your Super Soaker!

Nerf Super Soaker Scatter Blast
Nerf Super Soaker Scatter Blast

You'll be part of the action with this super soaker water gun. It sends out 5 streams of water, and can blast up to 25 feet away. It'll even the playing ground when you're at the Songkran festival!


© 2012 Country Sunshine

How About You? - High & Dry, or Cool & Wet? What are your thoughts about the Songkran Water Festival?

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    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 5 years ago from Virginia

      Our familiy managed to be in Chang mai for a few day and it was a water soaked blast! Blessed by COUNTRYLUTHIER.

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      I like the part about giving things of no use away. Very cleansing.

    • julescorriere profile image

      Jules Corriere 5 years ago from Jonesborough TN

      What an interesting ritual. Spring is about rebirth and starting anew, in so many cultures. thanks for sharing this. Blessed.

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 5 years ago

      I had no idea this event was celebrated. Thanks for bringing it to my attention! Harmony, the tabby, gives it two paws up, because she likes things really clean!!

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      So much fun in the cleaning. I also like the spring cleaning concept of removing anything old and useless that will bring bad luck. Blessings.

    • jayceehaynes profile image

      jayceehaynes 5 years ago

      high and dry