April is the hottest time of the year in Thailand, so the water splashing fun of the Songkran festival is always welcomed, by Thais and tourists alike. The kingdom’s most culturally important event, Songkran is a celebration of the traditional Thai New Year. Normally the celebration lasts for three days from 13 to 15 April, but this year there will be an extended break as 16 and 17 April falls on the weekend.
According to the Thai Buddhist calendar, Songkran literally means ‘astrological passage’. It can be interpreted as ‘change’ and ‘cleansing’, a time to usher in a new year and to purify one’s soul and also to do some spring-cleaning. It is also a time to enjoy family time and some fun and exciting festivities too.
Don’t be surprised to see thousands of Bangkok-based Thais flocking to the bus terminals or joining the traffic for the long drive back to their hometowns to see their families and old friends to enjoy the Songkran celebrations together. Each province and each community has its own unique way of celebrating the festival, so the activities vary from province to province.
Top tips to get the most out of Songkran:
In the morning, make merit and listen to temple sermons to understand and benefit from the spiritual side of the festival. Remember that during the New Year festival, the temple activities are the most important aspects of the celebration.
To purify or bathe the Buddha or other statues, water should not be poured directly onto the head of the relic, rather on other parts of the statue’s torso. This is a unique ritual which for centuries has celebrated the significance of water in Thai culture and society as a symbol of purity, prosperity and happiness.
The custom of pouring water onto the hand of elders’ (people above 60 years old), is to show respect and seek their New Year blessings.
Source: TAT – Tourism Authority of Thailand
See more at: www.tatnews.org