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Festival in Thailand

 

Songkran Festival (Thai New Year)

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.

Songkran Festival - Thai New YearIn 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 national holiday.

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 forSongkran Festival - Thai New Year 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.

 
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