Celebrate Songkran – Thailand’s Wet New Year Festival

in Thailand

The revelry of New Year’s Eve may be far behind the Western world, but now Thailand’s gearing up for its annual celebrations..

The Thai New Year is known as Songkran, and it’s celebrated every year from April 13 to April 15 with plenty of free fun.

Songkran is often called the Water Festival, so you’d best come prepared for a dousing. The Thai people believe that water will cleanse them of bad luck, so they spend the three days getting wet and wild in preparation for a successful New Year!

It’s not just the people that get washed down at Songkran. Other rituals look to purify Thailand for the New Year, from cleaning houses to washing down statues of Buddha. Young Thais also show their respect for their elders by uttering blessings and cleansing their hands with scented water. This practice is thought to banish negative thoughts and actions.

The first day of Songkran is called Wan Sungkharn Long. On this day the Thai people offer alms and food to the monks at their local Buddhist temple before returning home to clean their houses. On the following day, called Wan Nao, the Thais return to the temples. They build small pagodas from sand called chedis and clean the temple’s sacred objects with water. And finally there is Wan Payawan, when the fun really begins!

Wet fun in Thailand's streets at Songkran

Wet fun in Thailand's streets at Songkran

Unless you want to be soaked to the skin, you’d best stay indoors on the final day of Songkran. The Thai people wander the streets looking for dry souls to saturate with ice-cold buckets of water and the spray of water pistols. Remember that this is all in fun, and even if you would prefer to stay dry you should accept the pranks in the spirit they were intended
Songkran is a time for family, so many Thais leave the cities to return to the provinces they grew up in. This leaves major tourist areas, including the capital city of Bangkok, much quieter than usual. If you like to avoid crowds, this is the time to see the big cities. However remember that as Songkran is an official Thai holiday, its government institutions including banks and post offices are closed for the festival’s entirety. Plan ahead and you’ll have a great time during Songkran, no matter where you’re enjoying it.

[Image Source: Wyndham Hollis/Flickr]

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