Every year from April 13 to April 15, the Thais celebrate their Thai New
Year which is known as Songkran . These dates coincide with the New Year of
many calendars of South and Southeast Asia.
the past the dates of the festival were set determined by astrological
calculations, however in modern times the dates are now fixed. If the dates
of Songkran fall on a weekend, the ensuing weekdays are public holidays.
Songkran occurs at the hottest time of the year in Thailand which is at the
end of the dry season. Up to 1888 the Thai New Year was used as the
beginning of the new year in Thailand after which 1 April was used to
determine the start of the New Year until 1940 where 1 January was used till
date. Since 1940, the traditional Thai New Year has been demarcated as a
New Year traditions
In Songkran on of the main highlights of its celebrations is the splashing
of water. Revelers roam the streets with containers of water or water guns,
or post themselves at the side of roads with a garden hose and drench anyone
who walks by. However this is not the main objective of this festival as
Songkran is traditionally a time to visit and pay respects to one�s elders,
family members, friends and neighbors.
During Songkran it is also a custom for people to go to a buddhist monastery
(Wat) to pray and donate food to monks. At the Wat, they cleanse Buddha
images from household shrines as well as Buddha images at monasteries by
gently pouring water which has been mixed with a Thai fragrance
(Nam-Aob-Thai) over them. Many believe that by doing this, they will have
good luck and prosperity for the New Year. In many cities, such as Chiang
Mai, the Buddha images from all of the city's important monasteries are
paraded through the streets on ornately decorated floats so that people can
toss water at them, thereby ritually 'bathing' the images. In northern
Thailand, people may carry handfuls of sand to the monastery located in
their neighbourhood to compensate for the dirt that they have carried away
on their feet for the past year. The sand is then sculpted into stupa-shaped
piles and decorated with colorful flags.
Songkran is also a time for cleaning and renewal. Besides washing their
household Buddha images, many Thais also take this opportunity to give their
home a thorough cleaning.
The use of chalk (Din-Sor-Phong) to mark bessings is also very common. This
practise originated from the chalk being used by monks to mark blessings.
The splashing of water I sused to give blessing to people. Water that had
been poured over the Buddhas for
cleansing is collected and then used to give good fortune to elders and
family by gently pouring it on their shoulders. In Thai, this practise is
called Rod-Nam-Dam-Hua. The young have however added their own version to
include dousing strangers with water to relieve the heat as April is the
hottest month in Thailand (temperatures can rise to over 100�F or 40�C on
some days). This has evolved into water fights and splashing water over
people riding in vehicles all in the name of fun.
Songkran is also celebrated in many places with a pageant in which young
women demonstrate their beauty and unique talents which is judged by an
audience. The winner, is the girl who has the most flower necklaces
purchased for them.