Songkran festival, which is Thailand’s New Year’s Day, is 3-day holiday celebrated from 13th April to 15th April. When the holiday falls on a weekend, it may be extended for a few more days. Songkran is a Sanskrit word that means the change from one Zodiac sign to another. But there are many Zodiac signs in a year.
So, why is there just a single New Year’s holiday? It’s simple, when the sun enters Aries the Ram, the period is considered a major event, and that is what distinguishes this holiday from all the rest.
The Water Shows
Splashing water is one of the major aspects of the Songkran festival. This tradition has its history in when images of Buddha used to be cleaned using ‘blessed’ water during this holiday. The ritual is believed to bring good fortune and is also considered a sign of respect. The ritual has transformed a great deal, and Thais will have ‘water fights’ in the streets using water guns, water containers, or water hoses.
No one is exempt from this beloved ritual. So, even if you are just a passer-by going about your business on the streets, you will most certainly end up the target of excited Thai’s throwing water at anybody who walks by. Even police are not spared this ritual, which many people try to spice up by using icy water, adding talcum powder to the mix, or even using ice cubes.
Therefore, as you walk around on this day, make sure you do not carry anything that is not waterproof, otherwise, it could end up damaged. Luckily, in most places, the water throwing only lasts from April 13 to the 15th, although some areas go on a frenzy and push it on for longer, for instance, places such as Pattaya.
A Period Of Reflection
Many Thais take this momentous opportunity to make New Year resolutions. For others, this is usually a period of reflection and taking time to appreciate the important things in life. Some people take this opportunity to seek the blessings of the elderly, and also enhance their spirituality by visiting various temples.
A Time To Party
For most people, however, this holiday is a perfect excuse to have fun and make merry, walking the streets and engaging in exciting water fights, or partying for hours on end. Places like Khao San Road allow people to enjoy wild parties while still soaking each other in water.
Additionally, places like Silom are filled with thousands of people engaging in random water fights, which is one of the most colorful things you will possibly ever see.
Things Slow Down
Thai is known for its relaxed work ethic, but on this day, this goes up an extra notch. With the water fights all over the streets, and people having more interest in soaking everyone around them in water, you should not expect to get where you are going in a hurry, if you even ever make it. You should also expect to get wet if you have to get outside.
Therefore, do not have very big plans for this day besides enjoying the merriment that is going on everywhere, especially when such plans involve significant traveling.
It’s better to hold off such plans until things settle down.
A Time of Fun
The Songkran festival is a big deal in Thailand, and offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for tourists to enjoy the most exciting Thai holiday. Although this holiday was traditionally a time to do various religious duties, it has slowly transformed into a period for having fun and merry in the streets with other well-meaning people.
The water fights form a big part of this celebration, and certainly add a uniqueness to the Songkran festival that you cannot possibly hope to see anywhere else in the world.