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Songkran Festival, New Years Celebration In Thailand
My Favorite Songkran Trick
The Songkran Festival
The festival of Songkran
is held every year between April 13th - 15th in Thailand. However in
some provinces the celebration starts early and lasts more than 1 week.
During the festival the locals as well as the tourists will engage in an
all out water war, with squirt guns, buckets, hoses, and anything you
can get your hands on. This festival normally includes a lot of alcohol
consumption, similar to the New Years Eve celebrations in western
countries. If you do not like the sounds of this, you should not plan to
travel to Thailand at this time of year, this is a festival that
everyone is involved in (willing or unwilling). Government offices,
banks, businesses and shops may be closed during a period of up to 7-14
days during this festival, so you will want to make sure any banking, or
business affairs are done prior to the first week of April.
Originally Songkran was celebrated only in the northern provinces of Thailand, and it is believed to have been introduced by the Burmese, who had adapted it from the Indian Holi festival. Over the past century the festival has spread to the rest of the country, including the southern provinces. The exact date of the festival originally had been set by astrological calculation, but it is now on the fixed date of April 13th - 15th. The Word "Songkran" is derived from Sanskrit "Sankranta" and means "a move or change" - symbolizing the movement of the sun into the Aries zodiac.
The Water Fight
This is something that you would have to see to believe, as childish as it may sound, this is for people of all ages. For the most part people are very considerate and just having some good natured fun, however with the enormous consumption of alcohol, sometimes things do get out of hand. Children and adults, stand outside their shops or their houses, with loaded water guns, buckets of water or hoses, looking to soak all passers by. I have even seen fire trucks with fire hoses getting in on the action (no I am not kidding, nor am I exaggerating). Many people will get in the pickup truck, with as many as a dozen people in the back, all geared up with various water weapons. Most of the water wars take place right in the street, or on the side of the road, and needless to say, this can be quite dangerous.
There are a staggering amount of traffic fatalities every year during the Songran festival, normally alcohol is the main contributing factor. It is strongly recommended to avoid driving during these holidays, as even if you are sober, you can be assured that you will be one of the few that are. The government statistics say that approximately 85 people per day are killed in traffic accidents during the Songkran holidays. Every year the government tries to crack down on enforcement of helmet laws as well as drinking and driving, with limited success.
There are many unwritten rules when engaging in the water fights of the Songran festival, many of these rules are ignored by most people. Some people like to use a mixture of talcum powder and water to paint the faces of others. This is still very common, but some people do not appreciate it. Another thing that you are technically not supposed to do, is to use ice to cool your water, however this is something that everyone does, and as long as you are not throwing ice at people it should be fine. You will not want to get in a water fight against somebody with cold water, if your water is warm. One rule that I do not think anyone should be breaking, is that when the sun goes down, the water fights should stop. Almost everyone will stop the madness as it gets dark, but it never fails, there will always be some hooligan (normally a foreigner) that will continue playing during the night. This holiday is meant to be fun, so as long as you exercise common sense, you should be alright, but a word of advice to those that don't want to get wet (stay in your hotel)!