With the recent news of Songkran being re-scheduled after Covid-19 wreaked havoc on Thailand’s economy, many near and far wonder about the details of Thailand’s famous New Year celebration. Samui Times has you covered with all you need for the Songkran scene with frequently asked questions answered below.
To start, what is the purpose of Songkran and how do they celebrate Songkran?
The yearly water gun fight represents more than just fun in the sun. The real meaning behind the splashes is to symbolically wash off all misfortunes in the past year, thus welcoming the new year with a fresh start.
Traditionally, Thais would politely pour a bowl of water on members of the family, their close friends and neighbors. As Songkran has taken a more festive note, a bowl becomes a bucket, garden hose and water guns, and the spirit of holiday merriment is shared among all town residents and tourists.
The actual meaning of Songkran represents purification and the washing away of one’s sins and bad luck. As a festival of unity, people who have moved away usually return home to their loved ones and elders. Paying reverence to ancestors is an important part of Songkran’s tradition. Most visit temples for prayers and offerings as the word Songkran literally means “to pass” or “move into.”
Even though Thailand is world-famous for its water festival, other nations take part in the new year celebration. So, you may be wondering what other countries celebrate Songkran?
Songkran is literally derived from the Sanskrit word, saṅkrānti (or, more specifically, meṣa saṅkrānti) and used to refer to the traditional New Year celebrated in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, parts of northeast India, parts of Vietnam and Xishuangbanna, China.
Bangkok (Thailand’s capital) specifically experiences a mass exodus, as at least half of its residents travel back to their home towns for family reunions. In their place are travelers, who fly into Bangkok particularly to enjoy one of the most colorful and festive times of the year.
In light of getting wet during Songkran’s water festivals, many wonder how do you dress for Songkran?
Most locals wear brightly-colored floral shirts during the festival.
Even though Songkran was canceled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, once it is rescheduled, many wonder how long does Songkran last?
Songkran in Thailand is officially observed for 3 days as it is a national holiday, and although the government may announce varying official dates, it’s usually between the 13th and 15th of April. Even so, celebrations often last an entire week!
A week of Songkran festival activities often includes:
The 1st day of Songkran
Traditionally, Thais perform the Rod Nam Dum Hua ritual on the 1st day of Songkran, which is officially National Elderly Day. During the ritual, young people would pour fragrant water into the elders’ palms as a gesture of humility and ask for their blessings.
The 2nd day of Songkran
The 2nd day of Songkran is officially National Family Day. Families would wake up early and give alms to the monks, then ideally the rest of the day would be spent sharing quality family time together. An important religious ritual on Songkran is ‘Bathing the Buddha image’, in which devout Buddhists pour fragrant water over Buddha statues both at the temple and at home. More religious Thais would engage themselves in Buddhist ceremonies and merit-making activities throughout the holidays.
The 3rd day of Songkran
The third day of Songkran is celebrated by Thai Buddhists by again visiting the local temple, offering food to monks, and pouring fragrant water over Buddha images. In reality, Buddhists may visit the temple and make offerings on any one or more of the three main days of Songkran.
As Thai food undoubtedly is world-famous for its blend of flavors, there are some dishes that are more popular to consume during the Songkran festivities.
What do people normally eat during Songkran?
Khao Chae, Prawn Pad Thai, Pad Kee Mao Talay and Mango Sticky Rice. Also, don’t forget to quench your thirst with a delicious Thai Margarita!
Regardless of how or when Songkran will be celebrated this year, it is important to practice safety as roads are quite dangerous due to the increase in drunk drivers and wetness. As the new normal for Thailand has been rolled out, it is important to practice social distancing and safe hygiene whilst celebrating the Thai New Year. So, from Samui Times to you, we wish you a Happy Songkran 2020!Stay updated with Samui Times by following us on Facebook.
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