Over the years, it has become famous around the world and attracts growing numbers of visitors to Thailand every year: Songkran. The Thai New Year celebrations are known globally for their all-out public water fights, parties and inimitable atmosphere. But apart from throwing buckets of ice-cold water on strangers with impunity, there are several more things to this special time of year.
Always in April
Songkran is celebrated on the same day every year, from April 13 to 15. The first day, marks the new year, as this is the day when the sun passes into the Aries symbol and marks the year’s new beginning. This is also reflected in the original Sanskrit name which literally translates to “astrological passage”. Although Thailand has officially adapted the Western calendar and celebrates New Year’s Eve on December 31, Songkran still plays a major role in the lives of many Thais.
A Clean Slate
Songkran was not always known for squirt guns and water fights in the streets. The idea of throwing water on each other actually comes from rituals practiced during Songkran in temples and private homes. There, the Buddha statues are carefully washed which is supposed to bring good luck for the new year. By sprinkling each other with water, people symbolically cleanse and bless one another and share good wishes of luck and prosperity for the new year. This tradition also has its place in the home, where many Thais undertake a deep cleaning before the beginning of the festivities to ward off misfortune and invite luck into their house.
A Blast and a Splash
Depending on where you are during Songkran, you will witness different ways of celebrating. Bangkok is known for its water fights in Silom, around Central World and in Khao San. Oceanside resort destinations will host beach parties that particularly attract foreigners. Northern provinces are known for using firecrackers or even gunshots to ward off bad luck and welcome the new year. And finally, in the southern provinces it is common to free animals such as birds or fish to make merit. Wherever you happen to be in Thailand during Songkran, you will always find something new to experience and a new way to celebrate the coolest new year’s party on earth.
We wish everybody a happy Songkran, blessings and good fortune for the new year!