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SONGKRAN - 13th April - Sawadee Pi Mai

Songkran is the Thai calenders biggest celebration. On the 13th of April, and sometimes for many more days as well!!

Thailand becomes a huge water party!!! So what does this celebration mark or symbolise?

The term Songkran comes from Sanskrit "Sankranta" and means "a move or change"  Songkran festival is celebrated in Thailand on the 13th - 15th  as the traditional New Year's and coincides with the New Year of many other calendars of South and Southeast Asia.

Historically Songkran was celebrated as the beginning of the official year in Thailand; falling at the hottest time of the year and marking the end of the dry season. Now  a days the official start of the year is 1 January, in line with much of the rest of the world however the traditional Songkran, has since become a national holiday.

Songkran is traditionally a time to visit and pay respects to elders, including family members, friends, neighbors, and monks. People cleanse Buddha images  by gently pouring water mixed with a Thai fragrance (????????) over them. It is believed that doing this will cleanse and bring good luck and prosperity for the New Year. In  Chiang Mai, the Buddha images from all of the city's important monasteries are paraded through the streets so that people can toss water at them, ritually 'bathing' the images, as they pass by on ornately decorated floats.

Some people make New Year resolutions - to refrain from bad behavior, or to do good things. Many Thais also take this opportunity to give their home a thorough cleaning.

However the most enduring and recognisable images of celebration of Songkran today are the more rambunctious, fun-filled actions of throwing of water. People roam the streets with containers of water or water pistols, or post themselves at the side of roads with a bucket or garden hose and drench each other and passersby. The experience is one of great fun and childlike glee, with everyone from the smallest child to the oldest grandparent participating.

This is thought to have originated as a way to pay respect to people; the water that had been poured over the Buddhas for cleansing would be collected and then the  "blessed" water used to give good fortune to elders and family by gently pouring it on the shoulder.

The holidays rituals have now evolved into include dousing strangers with water to relieve the heat, since April is the hottest month in Thailand (temperatures can rise to over 100°F or 40°C on some days).

Whilst the emphasis now is on fun rather than on the festival's spiritual aspects the water remains  a symbol of washing all the bad away.

Songkran can be celebrated for a number of days but always starts on 13th April,  the longest and biggest celebrations occur in Chang Mai. Many visitors go to join the six day celebrations. Here on Koh Tao the celebration is much shorter focusing on the 13th of April however the celebrations are  just as wild and wet as everywhere else in Thailand!! We will be celebrating at Fishbowl Beach Bar, Bans Diving Resort.

 

SAWADEE PI MAI - The Film Company