Postcards from Thailand #6: Celebrating Songkran, the Water Festival on Thai New Year

thai-ayutthaya-140412-0075.jpg: Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: Playing with water in Ayutthaya in Thailand. Elephants are spraying water on everyone, and people are also enjoying themselves under a makeshift shower!
Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: Playing with water in Ayutthaya in Thailand. Elephants are spraying water on everyone, and people are also enjoying themselves under a makeshift shower!

If it’s Songkran, you must be in Thailand – all prepared to get wet!

The festival marks the Thai New Year, and is a time for fun and prayers over extended holidays. Water is used during this time as a symbol of cleansing for the new year. Mornings see everyone washing their temples, houses, schools and offices with water for a fresh start. Thais go to monasteries to offer alms to Buddhist monks and to listen to their preaching. They also seek blessings by sprinkling water on images of the Buddha, and by building small sand pagodas. Scented water is sprinkled on family elders to get their blessings too.

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And then the fun begins – mostly with water. ‘Gangs’ of mostly children and youth are to be found all over throwing water on each other and on passers-by. They can be seen standing at one spot, or moving around in small trucks, cars and bikes. All armed with water pistols and drums of water. You also have elephants joining in – spraying water with their trunks! The big mammals are also hired by youth to take them around as they splash water on others perched high up. The intensity of ‘warfare’ varies. Since Songkran falls during hot weather, no one minds getting wet. Some people also apply a white harmless paste on each other.

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And you have fairs too with food stalls (Thais love their food. Who wouldn’t? They offer terrific cuisines!), games and folk performances. Floral and religious processions and parades can be seen all over the country. It is time for fun all the way!

Travel tips during Songkran
* Be prepared to get wet. Even though no one is supposed to throw water on you without permission, don’t be surprised if someone does.
* Wear clothing that will not spoil with water. White shirts are avoidable for those concerned about their modesty.
* Carry money, cameras, mobiles and other valuables in waterproof covers. In fact, go around with as little on you as possible.
* Don’t get upset or angry if someone wets you – take it in your stride.
* Since Songkran means extended holidays for Thais, book hotels and flights well in advance as most are sold out.
* Songkran is celebrated on different dates around Thailand. Check for schedules as these can also change every year. It is spread over a few days at each location.

Happy Songkran!

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bangkok-watpho-110412-0088.jpg: Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: A cart decorated with flowers outside Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok
Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: A cart decorated with flowers outside Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok
bangkok-watpho-110412-0097.jpg: Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: Decorations at Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok
Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: Decorations at Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok
bangkok-watpho-110412-0105.jpg: Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: Making sand pagodas at Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok
Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: Making sand pagodas at Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok
bangkok-watpho-110412-0122.jpg: Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: A food, games and folk performances fair at Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok
Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: A food, games and folk performances fair at Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok
bangkok-watpho-110412-0131.jpg: Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: A stall selling handicrafts at Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok
Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: A stall selling handicrafts at Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok

 

bangkok-watpho-110412-0141.jpg: Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: A folk performance at Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok
Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: A folk performance at Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok
bangkok-watpho-110412-0145.jpg: Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: Buddhist monks at the prayer ceremony at Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok
Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: Buddhist monks at the prayer ceremony at Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok
bangkok-watpho-110412-0149.jpg: Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: A truck decorated outside Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok
Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: A truck decorated outside Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok
thai-ayutthaya-140412-0007.jpg: Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: Children throwing water on passing vehicles and pedestrians in Ayutthaya in Thailand
Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: Children throwing water on passing vehicles and pedestrians in Ayutthaya in Thailand
thai-ayutthaya-140412-0011.jpg: Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: Young monks charging to throw water inside my car at Ayutthaya in Thailand
Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: Young monks charging to throw water inside my car at Ayutthaya in Thailand
thai-floatingmarket-130412-0043.jpg: Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: Children outside their home near the floating market of Damnernsaduak near Bangkok
Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: Children outside their home near the floating market of Damnernsaduak near Bangkok
thai-floatingmarket-130412-0056.jpg: Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: A girl ‘shooting’ a water gun on passing boats near the floating market of Damnernsaduak near Bangkok
Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: A girl ‘shooting’ a water gun on passing boats near the floating market of Damnernsaduak near Bangkok
thai-floatingmarket-130412-0059.jpg: Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: A family having a good time at home near the floating market of Damnernsaduak near Bangkok
Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: A family having a good time at home near the floating market of Damnernsaduak near Bangkok
thai-floatingmarket-130412-0102.jpg: Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: A vendor at the floating market of Damnernsaduak near Bangkok - she has a water gun to look like an umbrella!
Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: A vendor at the floating market of Damnernsaduak near Bangkok – she has a water gun to look like an umbrella!
thai-floatingmarket-130412-0146.jpg: Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: A procession passing along the floating market of Damnernsaduak near Bangkok
Celebrating Songkran, the Thai New Year: A procession passing along the floating market of Damnernsaduak near Bangkok


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