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What is the Songkran festival in Thailand and its history?

Thailand is a tropical country located in South East Asia. It is famous for its beautiful beaches, colorful culture, and delicious food. The most important festival in Thailand is the Songkran festival. Celebrations occur throughout Thailand, and it lasts for several days.

The festival happens during April and May. During this period, it is considered the hottest month in Thailand. The Songkran festival aims to clean away all the past year’s sins and bad luck.

Songkran is a Thai tradition, and it is a combination of three other festivals, namely, Chinese New Year, Buddhist Lent, and Water Festival. The Thai people believe that the water they use for bathing and washing will remove all their sins.

Songkran is celebrated differently in different regions in Thailand. For example, people in some areas celebrate the Songkran festival for several days, whereas the celebration lasts only a few days in the other regions. Chiang Mai is very popular during this celebration. This reputation is because Chiang Mai’s northern locale is the site of the city’s best-known festival of Songkran, with festivities that will reportedly last six days.

This festival is lots of fun and has many festivities. People in the villages throw water on each other and then go to the nearest river to wash. People also visit temples and cleanse the temple premises.

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Why is Songkran Water Festival important to Thailand?

Songkran is a significant festival in Thailand. It is a celebration held at the end of the rainy season, where people give each other gifts and enjoy food and water. The festival starts in April and lasts until the 13th day of the full moon.

Thai people believe that the 13th day of the full moon is a good time for people to bathe, clean their homes and make offerings to the spirits. They also give thanks for a successful harvest.

History of the Songkran Water Festival

The Khmers originally celebrated the Songkran festival. The name “Songkran” emerged from the Sanskrit word for “washing” or “cleaning.” The Khmers believed that bathing would purify the soul and allow them to return to their homeland, Cambodia.

Today, the Songkran water festival is a national holiday in Thailand. Thousands of people gather at temple parks and riverbanks to celebrate with water cannons, fireworks, and food. When the first wave of tourists came to Phuket, they thought they were on vacation and couldn’t imagine that Songkran would be anything more than a bit of a shower. The locals were surprised when thousands of visitors turned up for the annual festivities. However, they have learned to live with the tourists and even appreciate the water fights.

The festival is now a national holiday in Thailand. Thai natives traditionally celebrate the festival by cleaning their homes, visiting temples, bathing, and giving gifts.

Songkran – The New Year

During the Songkran water festival, Thai people celebrate the new year. They consider that this is the best time to begin a new year. Therefore, many people give each other presents and participate in water fights. Thai people also visit temples and pray to bring good luck and a prosperous year.

Thai people will visit temples to make merit, donate and leave an offering of food. They ask the monks to bless their homes and businesses. They also visit relatives and friends. The Thai New Year elicits on the lunar calendar. Therefore, the Thai new year dates vary from year to year. Day 1 of the Thai New Year is called the Chaul Chaisong, which means “the first day of spring” in Thailand. Thai people start the new year on the 13th day of the waxing moon in the month of Thaipusam.

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Songkran – The Biggest Water Fights

Water fights are a vital part of the Songkran festival. Thai people go to rivers, lakes, canals, and pools to splash and play in the water during the festival. Many will dip in the river or lake, and others will throw water at each other.

It is also traditional to throw water on the Buddha images or statues in Buddhist temples. In addition, Thais go to the beach, parks, and even sidewalks to have water fights. The tradition of playing in the water goes back hundreds of years. The belief is that it originated when the first Thai King had a great flood. The King was able to save his people by using water to stop the floodwaters. The people then celebrated this event by having a water fight commemorating this miracle. Water fights are an integral part of the Songkran festival.

A New Tradition

The Songkran water festival is a new tradition in Thailand. It is not as widely celebrated as the New Year, held on the first day of the Thai lunar calendar. In the past, Thai people did not observe the new year. Instead, it was celebrated only by the Buddhist monks. Now, they celebrate the new year similarly to the Songkran festival.

Songkran, which means “to wash,” also symbolizes Thailand’s long history. This festival has its origin in the ancient Kingdom of Sukhothai. The Thai word “Songkran” means “wet season” or “hot season.” For the Thai people, Songkran is not just a time to cleanse themselves. It is also a time to share and help each other. The Thai people believe that the water of Songkran will bring good fortune for them and their families. So, Thai people like to have fun by enjoying the Songkran festival. They spend time with their friends and family. And they visit temples to pray and offer incense.

How can foreigners enjoy Songkran?

The festival is an opportunity to build relationships, so don’t be afraid to interact with your hosts. However, don’t expect to see them throwing water at you. Instead, try to be the one to throw water on them. You can even bring some water for them and share some of your cultures.

If you are a guest in Thailand, you can also participate in the water festival. Just make sure that you know the rules and traditions to enjoy the celebration without causing any problems.

Here are some recommendations to make sure that you have a great time:

  • Be prepared for the heat and humidity because Thailand is extremely hot during the summer months. Wear light clothing and stay hydrated.
  • Learn about Thai culture. Thai people speak English, but it may be helpful to learn a few basic phrases to help you get around.
  • Respect the local culture. It is common for Thai people to greet each other with a traditional bow. This way of greeting may seem strange to foreigners, but it is a respectful way to greet someone in Thailand.
  • Be prepared for the water fights. Thais love to play with water guns. Therefore, make sure to bring your water gun. Water guns are widely available across stores like 7-11 or local supermarkets.

How can foreigners learn more about Songkran tradition?

It’s always fun to visit a country, but it can be more enjoyable when you experience its culture. Thailand is a unique country, so you need to understand its culture, language, and traditions if you plan to visit it.

The most critical aspect of the celebration is to be able to communicate with your hosts. Foreigners may not realize that they need to learn some words and phrases in Thai to partake in the festivities fully. Our Baan Aksorn Thai Language courses include many topics about Thai culture and traditions. Why not try our 1-hour free lesson, either in school or via Skype. Contact us today.

Conclusion

Songkran is a Thai celebration that marks the beginning of the new year. During this time, people go on a water-throwing spree, and they give each other gifts of food and money. In addition, Thai people will throw water at Buddha images, statues, and other objects. They usually do this by dousing them with buckets of water, although some people also use plastic bottles and cans. The water-throwing signifies bringing good luck for the coming year.

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