Songkran is a popular event in Thailand that takes place during April. People from all over the world grab flights to Thailand to experience the remarkable festival that symbolises new beginnings and harbinger of good luck.
Thailand is one country that is inundated with a plethora of tourist attractions that beguile travellers from every nook and corner of this world. Tourist hotspots like Bangkok and Pattaya feature a range of charms that are sure to satisfy each and every kind of holiday maker. The spiralling demand for flight tickets to Pattaya and Bangkok is proof enough of Thailand’s blossoming tourism.
Thais are also renowned for their remarkable fervour and enthusiasm for different festivities and feasts. However, Songkran is one festival that creates utmost frenzy and incredible anticipation among locals and tourists alike. Many believe Songkran to be the biggest and best among all festivals that are celebrated in Thailand. Songkran is not just limited to being a social event that spreads fun and merrymaking; along with earthly enjoyment it focuses on spiritual well being of the individual. Undoubtedly, Songkran Festival is one of the most highly awaited events for people of all ages in Thailand!
Thais are extremely zealous when it comes to the festivities of this glorious event. People carry water buckets and water guns to celebrate the biggest water fight the region witnesses. One step out of your doorstep and you will be drenched in water from head to toe! Travellers to the region will be amazed to witness such merrymaking and the way Thais express their happiness during this special occasion. Given the kind of extreme festivities and tremendous joy the country experiences during Songkran, it is not surprising that travellers and vacationers from all over the world plan their holidays in Thailand around the period. Tickets on flights to Thailand become hot property as many hope to land up in the country to get a glimpse of this wonderful phenomenon.
Origins of Songkran Festival
Songkran is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Sankranti’ which means change or movement as this is the period during when the sun changes its position in the zodiac. The festival has been celebrated as the New Year for centuries and is believed to be adapted from an Indian festival.
The festival marks the beginning of the solar year and is celebrated over the period of three days in April. Mahasongkran (April 13) signifies the end of the old year, Wan Nao (April 14) is the day to prepare food for the subsequent day and Wan Thaloeng Sok (April 15) begins the New Year.
Celebrations and Rituals during Songkran
A number of customs and traditions are observed during the festival. Take a look at the major rituals associated with the event that make travellers’ holidays to Thai cities like Pattaya and Bangkok during Songkran so special.
People carefully and meticulously clean their houses on the eve of the festival as they believe that anything old and dirty is bound to bring bad fortune to them. Cleaning is one of the major aspects of Songkran that are practised by the Thais.
Nang Songkran Parade
Hundreds of people line up every year to witness this magnificent spectacle. Nang Songkran (Miss Songkran) is the first one to float pass. The parade also incorporates Buddha images and attendants on floats, as well as minstrels.
Thais usually pay a visit to Buddhist monasteries on the New Year’s Day and give alms to the monks. Thais spray scented water on the images of the Buddha to cleanse it. The water is also poured on the shoulder of the elderly as a mark of respect for them. This water pouring is a symbolic act that signifies cleansing and purifying of the body, soul and mind. It is believed that the water cleans away the sins and bad luck of the previous year.
Building sand pagodas in wats (monastery temples) is another popular custom that has been observed by the locals for years. People build pagodas on open spaces near the temple and decorate it with flags, flowers and lighted joss sticks. Sand pagoda competitions also take place where the best and the most attractive pagoda get awarded.
Songkran is called the water festival as water is undoubtedly the biggest feature of the celebrations, one that is recognised and enjoyed even by the tourists. People use water balloons, water guns and even garden hoses to wet each other! While some might consider it as a bit outrageous, for many getting drenched with water in the sweltering heat of nearly 40°C is surely a pleasant experience. No one is spared as young people go all out in an effort to soak every moving thing with water. Strangers, holiday makers, buses or foreigners – everyone is subjected to a refreshing bath! Those who are in no mood to get themselves drenched would do well for themselves by staying indoors.
Songkran Festival is surely a fun time to visit Thailand as people can experience legendary Thai merrymaking as well as get a peek into the remarkable Thai culture!