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.
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.
Something more for you to consider:
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