Songkran Water Festival of Thailand
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.
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.
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
- 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!
© 2012 Country Sunshine