If you’re afraid to get a little wet, this splashy spring festival is not for you. Songkran, Thailand’s water festival that marks the Thai New Year is all about celebrating new beginnings with a splash.
The three-day long festival usually starts on the 13th of April and focuses on the act of moving forward, towards new beginnings. The name ‘Songkran’ is derived from a Sanskrit word that stands for the “passage of the sun” and rightfully so, as astrologically, this is the day that the sun changes its position in the zodiac from the Pieces sign to Aries to start its passage all over again (Hostel World, 2019).The festival is based on the belief that water is a spiritually purifying source that cleanses you of any bad luck or misfortune from the last year, giving you the chance to start anew. The practice is said to have originated in the act of pouring water over buddha statues to cleanse them and then being used to bless village elders and family members by trickling it over their shoulders. Now the trickles of water have turned into buckets, garden hoses and water pistols and the spirit of holiday merriment is shared among locals and tourists alike. If you are wandering the streets of Thailand during the festival, there is a 100% chance that you will get soaked. And thankfully, this takes place in April, Thailand’s hottest month and you will be thankful for the splash.
The three days of Songkran are national holidays of Thailand. During these three days, young people pour fragrant water into the elders’ palms as a gesture of humility and ask for their blessings. Making merit is an important part of the festival and families would start the day early to visit temples and give alms to the monks and spend quality time together as families. The faithful can be observed at Thailand’s wats sprinkling clean or scented water over statues of Buddha to represent purification and good fortune.
The purifying element does not limit itself to individuals. The locals also make it a point to do a through cleaning of their living spaces, offices and schools to declutter and throw out the old to make room for the new. Relatives who have moved away return home for the holiday to spend time with their families making this a festival filled with warmth, love and joy. So if you are visiting cities like Bangkok at this time, be prepared to witness a mass exodus as people return to their home towns to be reunited with their families. Also, most office buildings, family-run shops, restaurants and banks shut down completely during Songkran but big shopping malls may remain open.
Silom is known to have the largest and the wildest Songkran crowd in Bangkok but you can witness the water fighting spectacle safely and relatively dry by staying on the BTS skywalk that runs above the street. The Khao San Road turns into a wild water fighting party that is sure to get you soaked from head to toe and the Phra Pradaeng district will offer you a more traditional Songkran where the celebrations take place about a week later than in central Bangkok and in addition to getting soaked you can also witness traditional activities such as the traditional saba game, Thai-Raman flag ceremony, Raman dances, floral floats parade and boat races. (Hotels.com, N/A)
So store your valuables in a plastic bag and prepare to get wet!
By Jayani Senanayake
Hostel World, 2019. Songkran Festival: everything you need to know. [Online]
Available at: https://www.hostelworld.com/blog/songkran-everything-you-need-to-know/
[Accessed 09 December 2020].
Hotels.com, N/A. Songkran in Bangkok. [Online]
Available at: https://www.hotels.com/go/thailand/songkran
[Accessed 09 December 2020].