Happy Songkran everyone!! To those unfamiliar with Thailand, you might wonder what is it? Songkran is basically the Thai New Years and it’s a holiday one shouldn’t miss. In Thailand, we have our own calendar system which follows the buddhist cycle and traditionally the date would be according to astrological calculations. Nowadays, it is fixed from April 13th to April 15th which also happens to be one of the hottest times of year in Bangkok and so a great excuse to splash water.
Following tradition, this would be the time of year when we visit elders, families and friends. New Years in Thailand I suppose is like New Years elsewhere, a time for reunion, celebration and good deeds. When visiting elders, Thais will bring along a jasmine garland as a sign of respect and offer it to the elder. Thai fragrant water garnished with rose and jasmine petals would then be gently poured over the hands of the elders to give them blessings and in return recieve blessings from the elders. This is a time when we remember those important to us.
It is also a time for religion and prayers. During this time, Thais will take down the Buddha images from their altars and bathe them in this fragrant water. It is an annual cleanse both physically for the Buddha images and mentally for the soul. Everywhere you go, you’d find buddha images out for everyone to cleanse whether it’s in sports clubs, supermarkets, department stores or friends’ houses. Those passing by will make some time to cleanse the buddha image.
Temple visits are one aspect of the celebration and its a time when all go to pay their respects and make New Year resolutions. It’s a peaceful time for the heart and soul. Up north, there are also more traditions regarding the building of sand jedis brought by those paying respect, but it is less now in Bangkok.
Songkran now has become more of a water festival when everyone splashes water at everyone. Although the water is meant to cleanse the body and soul for the New Years, now it is done mostly out of fun. By roadsides, you’d find groups of children standing next to a barrel of water, splashing water at whoever passes by. Sometimes those also playing, will ride up on their motorcycles or pick up trucks and shoot water out of a water pistol. It’s party time! It goes on for days and days. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a water fight, but I remember how much fun that was.
Not a lot of people now celebrate it traditionally, but I think it’s a tradition that should continued to be followed. It calms everyone and lightens the soul. Doing good is always something that should be done. It doesn’t matter how often, what matters is your intention 🙂 Happy Songkran and Happy New Years!! 😀