Songkhran marks the Thai Lunar New Year. Traditionally, Buddha images are washed and a bit of tepid perfumed water is poured on the arms or feet of elders as a sign of respect.
As for the modern celebrations of Songkhran, there are two ways to view it.
Positive View of Throwing Water
It is three days or more of one nationwide water fight. Nearly everybody everywhere is throwing or squirting water on each other. No one is spared, including policemen. This fun filled time comes at the peak of the hot season. It provides a holiday, a release and a chance to cool off from the heat.
This unique holiday is a must for visitors and if the opportunity presents itself to participate, by all means do so.
Negative View of Throwing Water
This entirely too long holiday, which actually drags on more than the official three days, is nothing more that an opportunity for bullies and hooligans to terrorize the citizenry.
What used to be a wonderful tradition has mutated into a chaotic nightmare. It doesn't stop with water throwing. Nowadays, it isn't unusual to have ice water poured down your neck. Even this isn't enough for some.
Getting hit with water balloons filled with dye, being squirted in the face with high pressure water rifles, youths boarding busses and throwing water on the passengers - all of these things have become more and more common.
Much of the abuse of this once gentle holiday is perpetrated by young visitors from abroad - especially in tourist bar areas during the day and backpacker areas like Khao San Road.
This holiday is to be avoided at all costs.
The choice is yours - the Positive View or the Negative View