06 Apr Songkran Festival
Get ready for the wettest New Year on the planet, Sawatdee Pii Mai !
The Songkran Festival is celebrated from 13th to 15th April and is the traditional New Year’s Day in Thailand.
Extra public and government holidays may be added either side of the official dates too.
The History of Songkran
Songkran is a Sanskrit wording meaning the passage of the sun from one Zodiac sign to another. Though there are twelve such passing from one Zodiac sign to another during the year, or twelve Songkrans, the significant one is when the sun enters Aries the Ram. Sometimes this is referred to as the Major Songkran but commonly known as the Songkran Festival.
Songkran also falls closely to the Vernal Equinox and has been commonly celebrated in the past. Indeed the Thai New Year is similar to the Holi Festival celebrated in India, Ching Ming as celebrated in China and even Easter as celebrated by Christians.
Songkran now falls annually on 13th April but originally the date would have been set by astrological calculations. It was the official New Year until 1888, then up until 1940 New year was celebrated on the 1st April before finally switching to 1st January.
The World’s Biggest Water Fight
Songkran or Thai Water Festival as it is commonly known nowadays involves either walking the streets and having water fights with water guns and any type of water container or standing standing at the side of the road to soak those walking about.
Throwing water around comes as a welcome relief to the April heat, the hottest month of the year in Thailand.
Songkran is easily marked as one of the most fun days on the Thai calendar though it’s roots would have been more of a spiritual and physical spring cleaning. Part of the ritual of Songkran is the cleaning of Buddha images and then using the blessed water from the cleaning to soak other people as a way of paying respect and to bring about good fortune.
As well as a good soaking you may also get white powder (nowadays commonly talcum powder) rubbed on your cheeks, a custom originating from monks using chalk to mark blessings. This is also similar to the celebrations of Holi in India.
How to get involved in Songkran
No matter where you go in Khao Lak be prepared to get soaked. Then continually soaked and soaked for the entire day. There is no escaping it and everyone will take great delight in soaking someone who is trying to stay dry.
In recent years there is a large foam party held underneath constant water sprinklers on the main road in Bang Niang, opposite Riverside Guest House. The party is accomanied by live music and regular extra soakings by the local fire brigade.
If you are heading out with anything valuable like a phone or camera, make sure they are well sealed in a waterproof bag.