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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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 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 festival has inherent values for family, community and society.
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.
The event facilitates people meeting each other and enjoying together. Thus
it helps in creating unity in the community.
Cleaning houses, temples, official buildings and public places is a part of
the festival. It makes the people conscious towards environment.
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.