This is one of the most fun days in Thailand. Many people get out on the street and others ride bikes or travel in the back of pickups.
Its a day when you get very wet if you leave your house but its all in fun. Most of the water feels great as its April, one of the hottest months of the year. Some people like our friend Penny love to fill their water with ice and when that cold water hits
you its very refreshing, ha ha.
Songkran is the festival that marks the beginning of the New Year in the traditional Thai calendar.
It used to be held on the full moon of the eleventh month, which coincided with the beginning of the northern spring, when the sun started moving northwards. These days the date is fixed, and each year the festival is held over three days from April 13-15
(though it may begin earlier and end later, depending on the year and the region). Festivals similar to Songkran are held at about the same time in Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and in the Yunnan region of South-West China. The name Songkran (สงกรานต์) comes from
the Sanskrit ‘sankranta’, meaning a move or change.
Traditionally, Songkran was a time when Buddha images from private homes and temples were cleansed with specially perfumed lustral
water. In many cities, Buddha images are taken from the temples and paraded around the streets for this purpose. Also at this time sand is taken to the temples, sculpted into shapes like stupas (chedis), and decorated with colorful flags. At this time, many
people take the opportunity to carefully clean their houses and to make New Year resolutions, promising to do good deeds and refrain from doing bad ones.
A feature of the celebration was that some
of the lustral water used to bathe the Buddha images was collected. It was then gently poured onto elders and family members as a sign of respect and to ensure good luck and prosperity in the coming year. What has happened in modern times is that this aspect
of the celebration has become its central theme, and has become much more intense. The result is that Songkran now resembles a three day water-fight in which any weapon, from high pressure squirt guns to buckets filled with icy water, is considered fair game.
It has become very popular with younger Thai people, and the younger tourists from overseas, who see it as three days of fun, rather than a religious festival. In fact, most Thai people are happy to take part
in this fun aspect of Songkran, particularly as April is usually the hottest month of the year, when temperatures can top 100º F (40ºC). Every year there are calls from political and religious leaders to moderate the festival, particularly in light
of the horrendous carnage on the roads, but every year these calls are ignored.