Imagine you are strolling down a Thai street on a warm April day, taking in all the exuberance that the place has to offer, and you randomly get hit square on the head by a water balloon. And as you curse the heavens wondering what just happened, you see the culprits – all the Thai people armed with water balloons and water guns ready to celebrate SONGKRAN!
Songkran: Thailand’s water festival
13th to 15th April
And what exactly is this?
The Thai counterpart of the Indian festival of Holi, the Chinese Ching Ming and the Christian festival of Easter, Songkran represents a cleansing ritual to wash away evil spirits in the anticipation of the Thai New Year. Songkran, basically, is the Thai version of a Sanskrit word which means the entry of the Sun into a new Zodiac. This particular Songkran, its original name being ‘Maha Songkran’, marks the beginning of spring with the celestial phenomenon of Vernal equinox and is celebrated robustly as a national holiday.
So how is Songkran celebrated?
The eve of Songkran, i.e. the 12th of April, is celebrated by cleaning houses and burning all the refuse. Early on the first day, clad in their new apparel, people visit the local monasteries and offer food to the monks. It is, however, the afternoon that is action-packed. Armed with water balloons and pistols, this is an outright water war! As it is over a hundred degrees Fahrenheit in Thailand in April, the water-attack is definitely welcome. After dousing you with gallons of water, the merrymakers will wish you “suk san wan songran” the traditional way (read= Happy New Year!).
Songkran around the globe!
Songkran, in all its glory, is celebrated not only in Thailand but also in other south-east Asian countries like Myanmar, Cambodia and the Lao State. The Sinhalese New Year Day in Sri Lanka, Nawruz in modern Iran and its neighbouring countries and the Vernal Equinox Day in modern Japan are some of the similar New Year Festivals celebrated around the globe.
Unless you lock yourself in a room during this impressive and glorious New Year’s Gala, it is impossible to save yourself from the blitz. Songkran is indeed what you need for a fresh start.