Songkran Festival in Thailand (water festival)
The Songkran Festival which is also known as the astrological passage is a famous festival in Thailand. It is the customary New Year’s Day starting from April 13 to April 15. It overlaps many South and Southeast Asian calendars and with their New Year.
The exact date of this festival was initially decided according to the astrological calculation. However, now this date has been fixed. In case these days come on the weekend then they are taken off in the next weekdays. Thailand experiences its hottest spell at the time of this festival which also leads towards rain after a dry weather. Till 1888, the local New Year was considered the official New Year beginning in Thailand. After that April 1st made the New Year until the 1948. January 1st marks the official New Year now. The traditional New Year is now the national holiday in Thailand.
Songkran has been celebrated for many years in Thailand and it is said that an Indian festival influenced its creation. Now this festival is celebrated by the whole nation, even to the lengths of the south side. The most elaborate of the Songkran celebrations take place in Chiang Mai, a city in the north and these celebrations continue there for about 6 days and sometimes even longer than that. It has become party time for many of the visitors and another reason for most of the tourists to holiday in Thailand.
One of the most observable celebrations of the Songkran is throwing water at people. People roam around with water guns and other water containers, and throw these at the passersby and at each other. People also take water hose and soak themselves wet or each other in the water. This festival was not all about throwing water at each other in the past. It was about paying respects to the elderly and the family members and neighbors, etc.
Apart from throwing water at each other, Songkran is also a Buddhist festival. So people gather and go to the wats which are Buddhist monasteries and then they pray there and give away food items to the monks. They also rinse all the Buddha images inside it. In households they cleanse Buddha images with water. They cleanse these images by throwing water at them and a little Thai fragrance. In some parts of Thailand Buddha statues and images from various monasteries are carried and bought and they are passed through streets as a parade where people throw water on them to show that they are trying to cleanse them and this way they show respect to the Buddhist religion.
While in the northern parts of Thailand people carry sands from their houses and take them to the monasteries and decorate them on the stupa shaped piles with colorful flags. This way they show that they are recompensing the dust that their feet carried all around the year.
New Year resolutions are made and people try to abstain from doing anything bad. Apart from cleaning the Buddha statues and images, many people clean their own houses.
Now when in monasteries the water is used to clean the Buddha images, this water is later taken by people considering that this water is now pure and clean and this can be used for paying respects to the elderly. This is then used as holy water for doing many things. Many young people celebrate this festival by throwing water at strangers and think that all their heat and tension has been released serving them well, April being the warmest month of the year and people get frustrated with the heat. Many people throw water at the people who are in vehicles just to cool them down.
Nowadays people focus on throwing water as a fun activity and do not realize the main spiritual reason behind it. In older days this festival was used to throw water to avoid the many road accidents caused by motorcyclists who were drunk, by throwing water at their faces. Basically the main purpose of throwing water is to purify the people and remove all the sins away.
In many parts of Thailand Songkran is celebrated by means of beauty pageants. Young women show off their good looks and their unique talents which the audience then judges. The winner gets a financial aid as a gift.
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