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    Lifestyle Curators for Thailand + Southeast Asia

    A Douse of Fun

      /  DESTINATIONS   /  A Douse of Fun

    Songkran embodies not only the Thais’ sanuk attitude but also the essential spirits of caring and unity at the core of Thai society — enduring qualities that make the country truly amazing

    by Atthasith Khupratakul

    It’s April again, usually the hottest month in Thailand, and it’s again time for Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year. From April 13 to 15, a spirit of good-natured fun will permeate the entire kingdom. It’s a time for religious ceremonies and meritmaking, for families and friends, for laughter and entertainment, and of course for splashing water – and lots of it!

    “Songkran” is a Sanskrit word meaning to “move into” and refers to the orbit of the sun moving into Aries. It marks the end of a 12-month cycle and the beginning of a new solar year. This traditional Thai custom of merry-making is the kingdom’s most ‘sanuk’ (fun-filled) festival, celebrated with tremendous enthusiasm nationwide. In most parts of the country, the event extends to over a period of three days, and in some, for as long as 10 days.

    A traditional Songkran in Chiang Mai.

    A traditional Songkran in Chiang Mai.

    Songkran today is known the world-over for its characteristic tradition of water-throwing ranging from a courteous sprinkle or a polite splash, to harmless water pistols and showers from garden hoses to the well-aimed bucket or water cannon delivered in a festive spirit. Without doubt, on the practical side, it is a refreshing solution to “beating the heat” in the hottest season of the year. There is, however, a much deeper significance to Songkran.

    Apart from marking a new beginning, Songkran is also a time for thanksgiving. It is an important time for individuals to reflect upon the many acts of kindness and thoughtfulness that each has personally experienced, and to remember how such acts bring peace, happiness, and wellbeing. Songkran is also a time for reunions and renewal of family ties, and that is why most locals make a trip back to their hometown during the period.

    At the heart of each Thai custom and tradition, there is always a logical reason for its existence and Songkran is no exception. The festive elements of the celebration, the cultural values, the social code of conduct, and individual belief and practices are intertwined. Songkran embodies the traditional Thai cultural mores and values.

    Its underlying significance is the process of cleansing and purification — the purging of all ills and misfortunes, and starting afresh with all that is good and pure. Water signifies purity, and is symbolic of this cleansing process.

    Today, the original water sprinkling has become a riotious water throwing, and there’s no other celebration that is most awaited by tourists in Thailand. Indeed, visitors love the celebrations, which, like all festivities include big feasts and a slew of entertainment shows and parties, but more importantly perhaps, the fervent water-throwing that has made it famous the world over!

    So go out, get wet, have fun – it’s Songkran!