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Songkran Festival - The amazing wild festival, extremely popular among the Thais, has singing, dancing, parades, beauty pageants, and of course, lots of games in water.
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Celebrating Songkran festivalSongkran, the conventional new year of Thailand, is celebrated in the month of April. Held all over Thailand with great fanfare, Songkran, also known as the festival of water, is the most popular event of the country. Songkran of Chiang Mai region is specially famous. Tourist arrive in huge numbers in Chiang Mai during the festivals to witness the celebrations.

The Celebrations
Plethora of customs are observed during the festival. These customs are part and parcel of the festival, celebrated over many days. The main rituals or customs associated with the event are as follows.

The Cleaning
People thoroughly clean their houses and burn refuse on the eve of the festival. People believe that anything dirty and old would bring bad luck to the owner, hence the cleaning.

The Procession
TThe Procession comprises Buddha images and attendants on floats, followed by minstrels and the town's people.

Offering of Food
On the first day of Songkran festival, people, dressed in new clothes, visit the Wat or monastery of their area to offer food and gifts to the monks. Alms bowls are kept on a long table in the Wat compound. People deposit food, fruits and sweetmeats in the bowls, which are later recieved by the monks.

Bathing ceremony
After praying before the Buddha idols, the faithful pour sacred scented water on the hands of the images. Elder monks and members of the family receive ceremonial bath. After the bath, they are also presented with gifts by the young and the faithful.

Building Pagodas
Building sand pagodas has been the custom in some wats. The ritual is observed on any open space near the wat. People purchase joss sticks, candles, flowers and banners from the Wat complex, and then, they get busy making the sand pagodas. Flags and lighted joss sticks are placed around these pagodas.

Water Fights
Songkran is the festival of colorful water. People splash water joyfully on one another and have great fun. The water fights, usually, go on for seven days. The water games have symbolical value for the people believe that the water will wash off their sins and wrongdoings.

Songkran Lady
Songkran Lady appears in the procession, atop a fancy beast, which are seven in number. She can ride the beast in four different postures. The beast and the posture is decided by the time she comes.

The Values
The festival has inherent values for family, community and society.

For Family
The festival provides the opportunity of gathering to the family members. The young express their respects to the elders by pouring fragrant water onto their hands and present them gifts. The elders wish for the young prosperous and good life.

For Community
The event facilitates people meeting each other and enjoying together. Thus it helps in creating unity in the community.

For Society
Cleaning houses, temples, official buildings and public places is a part of the festival. It makes the people conscious towards environment.

The Origin
Songkran is a Thai word of Sanskrit roots which means entry of the Sun into any sign of the Zodiac. Held for celebrating traditional Thai new year, it is observed with great enthusiasm.