Songkran Thailand’s New Year
Songkran is Thailand’s New Year holiday and is on 13 th April. Songkran holiday season tends to be 12 th – 16 th April and its origins lie with the welcoming on spring. Songkran is taken from the Sanskrit word translated as ‘astrological passage “saṃkrānti” and means ‘change’ or ‘transformation’. The timing of the New Year fits with most south east Asian calendars including Buddhism, the main religion of Thailand. The actual celebrations of Songkran take place between 13 th and 15 th April each year. Little is known about Thailand’s history before Medieval times, but what is know that Indian kingdoms settled there in the 1 st Century, hence some Indian influences in culture and cuisine.
Songkran is linked to the sun coming into the zodiac sign Aries, the first in the astrological calendar. The festival is also celebrated in Cambodia, north east India, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Xishuangbanna in China. If you are visiting Thailand during Songkran expect to get wet and not because of the weather and bring your sense of humour. Songkran is a water festival and do not be surprised if a random stranger chucks a bucket of water at you. It is all good fun and good luck.
Join in and get yourself a water pistol and be close to where you are staying so you can change out of the wet clothes or wear loose fitting clothing that will dry quickly. It is a sight to behold and the water throwing takes place on 13 th April. You could find a bar above ground level and watch the mayhem take place below you. It is incredible how lots of shrieking and laughter can be infectious. You will be laughing for days afterwards and you will never forget that experience, especially if you get soaked to your bones.
Also, on the 13 th April there are lots of street parade carrying fabulous images of Buddha and this date is known as Songkran Day. On 14 th April is Wan Nao which is New Year’s Eve in Thailand when worshippers visit Buddhist temples and make Buddhist temple sand structures, some of which are spectacular to watch. If you have time, watching these sand sculptures be made is quite mesmerising.
On New Year’s Day, 15 th April, the final day of Songkran, gifts are take to the temples. Cities provide rather flamboyant celebrations, processions, bathing ceremonies of Buddha, and lots of food.