By: iamAldonLopez | April 15, 2019
Songkran is the Thai New Year’s national holiday in Thailand. Although, New Year has been officially celebrated on the 1st of January, but Songkran was their traditional Thai New Year and it was transformed into a national holiday. Normally, Songkran is every 13th of April, but this year of 2019 they extended the festival to 5 days from 12 to 16 of April to be able for the citizens to have enough time with their families and for the tourists to enjoy more while they are on their vacation.
The word “Songkran” comes from the Sanskrit word which means ‘astrological passage’, and literally to change or to transform. Basically, a Songkran occurs every month. However, the period that Thai people refer to as Songkran happens when the sun moves from Pisces to Aries in the zodiac. It was supposed to be named after Maha Songkran ‘great songkran’ because it corresponds with the arrival of a New Year. Songkran festival covers a period of three days such as:
- 13th of April refers to Maha Songkran, the day of the sun moves into Aries on the zodiac or the last day of the year.
- 14th of April refers to transitional day between the old and the new year. They called it Wan Nao.
- 15th of April refers to New Year’s Day itself or the new era. They called it Wan Thaloeng Sok.
According to the Buddhist scripture at Wat Pho, Songkran was originally come from the death of Kapila Brahma, who happened to be a very wealthy man with childless and his heavy drinking neighbor with two sons who belittled the rich man for having no children. The rich man urgently asked the Sun and the Moon gods to grant him a son. His first attempt was failed until he offered something like cooked rice to the tree god living in a banyan tree. Then, his wish was granted. The child was born and named after Thammabal ‘one who protects righteousness’ and taught people to avoid making sin.
The Songkran festival celebration is rich with symbolic traditions such as merit-making where in tourists and locals will visit temples and offering food to the Buddhist monks, water pouring which represents cleansing or to wash away one’s sin and bad luck, people who moved away from their families usually return home, water fights along the road, people in tuk-tuk usually get soak and the use of chalk is also common which normally used by monks to mark blessings.
This was my second time celebrating Songkran festival in Bangkok, Thailand. And I can say that it was indeed an amazing experience. In Bangkok, they have 2 major hubs for modern celebration of Songkran where in they closed the roads in Silom and Khao San Roads for traffic and post equipped with water guns and bucket full of water. The party runs day and night. In other regions on the other hand, they also have different ways on celebrating the Songkran festival. It’s more of traditional way compared to Bangkok. In Silom Road and Khao San Road normally have this huge party in which thousands of people have water fights with water guns, water container, balloons or any other vessels they can get their hands on.
If you want to experience this spectacular festival in Thailand. You make sure that you book your hotels and tickets in advance because thousands of people from across the world are always looking forward to this event. You also have to make sure that you have enough energy for the 3-days water fights and be ready to get trap in line of thousands of people in Silom and Khao San road. Ultimately, my experienced with Songkran festival is always unforgettable because I got a chance to meet new people, got new friends from across the world and it’s always feel good to learn something about how Thai people celebrate their New Year. #happysongkranfestival2019
Tips for Songkran festival if you are thinking of going next year specially in Silom Road and Khao San Road:
Prepare to get wet. Yes, whether you like it or not, you will get wet. Imagine, you dive in to the pool or ocean with your clothes on.
Don’t take it personally. Please be reminded that you will come here because of Songkran festival in which you will get wet in the first place. So, if someone will throw water at you, don’t take offense! Get involved, instead. Remember, water pouring represents cleansing or to wash away the sin and bad luck.
Prepare goggles and water guns. You need goggles because you can’t avoid someone will directly shoot water to your eyes. You make sure that you have the biggest water gun so you will win if someone will blast a water to you using their small water pistol.
Be patient. This is really necessary if you are going to Silom Road and Khao San Road. Again, this place is the major hubs in this event. So, expect that the streets are packed with thousands of people.
Visit Temple. It always better to visit at least one of the temples in Bangkok whilst you are celebrating Songkran festival. This way, you can see the traditional way of celebrating the Songkran festival.
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