What is Thai Songkran?
One of the most popular Thai festivals is the Songkran festival, also known as the Thai New Year. It takes place annually in April and is celebrated with water-throwing and other activities. The festival is a time for people to cleanse themselves of bad luck, pay respect to the Buddha, and spend time with family and friends. It is a national holiday in Thailand and is celebrated all over the country, with the biggest celebrations taking place in Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Pattaya.
Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year festival and it is celebrated from April 13-15. The word Songkran comes from the Sanskrit word "Sankranti" which means "astrological passage" and it marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year. The festival is celebrated by Thai people all over the country, and it is a time of renewal, forgiveness, and paying respect to the elderly.
Traditionally, Songkran was celebrated as a time to pay respect to the Buddha and to cleanse oneself of bad luck. People would visit their local temples, offer food and donations to the monks, and pour scented water over the Buddha statues as a sign of purification.
Nowadays, Songkran is celebrated with water-throwing and other activities, which is why it is also known as the "Water Festival". People take to the streets, armed with buckets, water guns, and hoses, and douse each other with water. The water-throwing is said to symbolize the washing away of bad luck and the start of the new year.
Should I Give Gifts for Songkran?
During Songkran, it is traditional for people to give gifts to their family, friends, and elders as a way of showing respect and wishing them good luck in the new year. Some common gifts given during Songkran include:
Food and sweets: People often give traditional Thai sweets and snacks, such as khao tom (sticky rice pudding), khao niaw (sticky rice), and Khanom, (sweet desserts) as gifts.
Flowers: Songprakong (small bunches of flowers), jasmine garlands, and other floral arrangements are often given as gifts during Songkran as they are believed to bring good luck and prosperity.
Money: Giving money as a gift is common during Songkran, particularly to children and elders as a way of wishing them good luck and prosperity in the new year.
Traditional Thai clothes: Giving traditional Thai clothes, such as a traditional Thai shirt or dress, as a gift is another way to show respect and honor Thai culture.
Personal care items: Soaps, lotions, and other personal care items are also popular gifts during Songkran, as they symbolize the cleansing and purification that takes place during the festival.
Water: Water is an important symbol during Songkran and it is common for people to give bottles of water as gifts to symbolize the washing away of bad luck.
It's worth noting that the gifts given during Songkran vary depending on the region, family and personal preferences.
Can I Splash Everyone with Water?
During the Songkran festival, water-throwing is a common and expected part of the celebrations, and most people expect to get wet. However, it is important to be respectful and mindful when participating in the water-throwing.
Some people, such as the elderly and monks, may not want to get wet, so it's important to ask for permission before dousing them with water. It's also important to be aware of your surroundings and not to splash water in people's faces or on their cameras or other electronics, as this can cause damage. Additionally, some people might not be interested in participating in the water-throwing, and it's important to respect their wishes and not splash water on them.
In general, people are in a festive mood during Songkran, and as long as you're respectful and mindful of others, you should have a great time participating in the water-throwing.