The Significance of Songkran – Thailand’s Traditional New Year
What is Songkran, but the traditional Thai New Year festival that embraces love, compassion, goodwill, and being grateful for everything good and noble. Songkran comes from the word Sankskrit, which means move or step forward. This well known Thai festival generally falls on the 13th, 14th and 15th of April every year.
Date celebrated in 2012 – 13 April to 15 April 2012
Date celebrated in 2013 – 13 April to 15 April 2013
Even though this traditional celebration is set to last for 3 days only, it often lasts up to 5 days and is very closely associated with water, which is why it often times gets referred to as the Water Festival. This custom results in great fun as tourists may very well find they get splashed by water or shot by water guns as they pass citizens of Thailand. They may just be inclined to join in the fun and participate in the Songkran water fights.
Others pay their respects to Buddha during this time by visiting Buddhist temples and give alms to Buddhist monks. Another custom is to gently pour water over Buddha images in the temples.
Planning Your 2013 Songkran Celebrations
It is suggested you make your bookings for the famous Songkran 2013 celebrations now already as it sure is one of the major highlights when visiting Thailand. There are various well known festivals taking place such as the following:
- Chiang Mai Festival
- Sukhothai Festival
- Bangkok Splendours Festival
- Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
- The Great Songkran Day
- Phra Padaeng/Samut Prakan Festival
- Nakhon Si Thammarat Festival
- On the beach Songkran
- Hat Yai Midnight Festival
- Chon Buri Festival
- Dok Khun Siang Khaen Festival
- Nakhon Phanom Festival
- Nong Khai Festival
Interesting Facts About Songkran
The Songkran festival falls in the hottest time of year, shortly after the dry season. Originally believed to have been adapted from Indian festivals, it is now celebrated nationwide in Thailand. The most famous celebrations take place in the northern city of Chiang Mai, where it is said to continue for as long as six days, if not longer.
It is over here that you may find people carrying Buddha images through the streets to allow bystanders to throw water at them thereby cleansing them to bring about good luck for the New Year.
Songkran is also a time for renewal and cleaning as many Thais make use of the opportunity to give their homes a thorough cleaning.
Regarded as one of the most important festivals, Songkran encompasses three major values in the life of Thais which are:
Family value – This is the time when most family members get together to show their respect and love for each other while paying their respects to their ancestors simultaneously
Society value – By interacting with one another and active participation, people in the community are brought together to enhance both unity and goodwill within the society
Religious value – By offering food to monks and visiting temples, people of Thai origin are displaying a religious spirit during the Songkran festivals
Thais in various parts of the world get together to observe Songkran, and take great pride in their traditional celebrations by wearing stunning costumes and playing upbeat Thai pop music, take part in various dance demonstrations, and may even display unique fruit carving skills at the time.
It is not uncommon to find people in Thailand covering their bodies in chalk as it is a way of showing they are making a fresh start. Tourists need to prepare themselves and ensure they do not carry valuables such as cameras, cell phones, and laptops with them as they are sure to get wet during the various festivals taking place where citizens of Thailand observe Songkran, the water festival.