Every year on April 13th, the Songkran begins. It is based off of the Buddhist solar calendar and marks the official beginning of the new year. The celebrations are rich with symbolic Thai traditions. People start the day by visiting temples, offering food to monks, and pouring water over Buddha statues.
Happy Thai New Year!
Water pouring represents the cleansing of sins and bad luck from the previous year. The festival is also a celebration of unity; families come together to pay respect to their elders and ancestors. Traditionally, the young members wash the hands of the elders in their families.
Countless different traditions are practiced throughout Thailand, each typically based on region.
Southern Thailand: Southerners have three Songkran rules:
1.) Work as little as possible & avoid spending money
2.) Do not harm other persons or animals
3.) Do not tell lies
Northern Thailand: The first day – firecrackers are set off in the streets to repel bad luck. The following morning, people prepare food to offer to the monks at the temples, then make merit and bathe Buddha’s statue. They subsequently pour water on the hands of elders and ask for their family blessings.
Eastern Thailand: The culture tends to be more religious in this region. Merit is made at the temple each day of the celebration. The families then share large meals and offer food to the elders of the household.
Central Thailand: It is traditional for people in this region to clean their houses when Songkran approaches, which represents purity. Colorful clothing is worn and food is offered to monks. The people will also offer a requiem to their family ancestors. Birds and fish are released back into the world and nowadays, people also release other kinds of animals such as buffaloes and cows.
Although each region has its own traditions, universally the holiday is known for its water festival, mostly celebrated by young people. Major streets are closed and used as areas for water fights. Large parades are held and contestants are clothed in traditional Thai clothing. Celebrants participate in this tradition by splashing water on each other, shooting with water guns, and having elephants splash passersby!
No one is safe. These water wars last about a week and if you are in public, you are fair game. It is such an incredible event to witness as the entire country takes part in this tradition.
People driving by in buses and cars are splashed, mopeds stop to shoot each other with squirt guns, kids run around throwing buckets onto random people. This is authentic culture at its finest. On your next trip to Thailand, make sure to stay for this festival. It will perfectly display the true happiness of this beautiful country!
Ready to join the tradition or book your next trip?
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