Thailand's Songkhran - A Happy and Wet New Year Party
Songkhran may be the most anticipate event of the year in Thailand. It might be described as part holiday, part festival and all party. Though commonly known as the "water festival" is the ancient Thai New Year. Officially it is April 13, 14 and 15, but depending on the region, the celebration may last for as long as two weeks.
Larger cities empty out as people head back to their home villages for the festivities. Every bus, truck, train and airplane headed for the provinces is packed on the last work day before Songkhran. For Songkhran is a time of family and the binding of family, community and religion.
Younger family members will seek out elders and pour water across their hands as they ask for blessings. They will make merit my giving food to monks, offering new robes to them, bathing Buddha statues, releasing birds and fish, and laying sand stupas.
Younger people often engage in a more rigorous social activity by playfully splashing water on each other. This is also an acceptable form of flirtation between boys and girls.
Westerners traveling to Thailand don't always delve into the true culture behind festivals and often engage in, what seems to them, simply a great deal of fun. But too often the westerner escalates the level of play to the point of rudeness and beyond. Songkhran is one of those holidays where this has happened.
- Powerful water cannons can damage eyes
- Buckets of water and ice thrown at passing motorcycles can knock a rider down
- Chunks of ice can injure someone, as can water filled balloons
- The water throwing traditionally ends at 18:00
Numerous injuries and property damage has resulted and there is now a movement by the Thai government to regulate the vigor of water throwing.