Bangkok Songkran Festival
04 April, 2012
Songkran is the occasion for family re-unions, temple visits and annual house cleaning. Many Thais observe the holidays by spending time with families and friends. Traditionally, Thais perform the Rod Nam Dum Hua ritual on the first day of Songkran, which is officially the National Elderly Day. During the ritual, young people will pour fragrant water into the elders’ palms as a gesture of humility and to ask for their blessings.
The second day of Songkran is officially the National Family Day. Families will wake up early and give alms to the monks, then ideally the rest of the day will be spent sharing quality family time together. An important religious ritual on Songkran is ‘Bathing the Buddha image’, in which devout Buddhists pour fragrant water over Buddha statues both at the temple and at home. More religious Thais will engage themselves in Buddhist ceremonies and merit-making activities throughout the holidays.
Contradictory to what you may have witnessed throughout Songkran, fun-loving Thais don’t just throw water at each other for no good reason (besides having a kick out of seeing other people soaking wet). The real meaning behind the splashes is to symbolically wash off all the misfortunes of the past year, thus welcoming in the new year with a fresh new start.
Traditionally, Thais would politely pour a bowl of water on members of the family, their close friends and neighbours. As Songkran has taken a more festive note, a bowl becomes a bucket, garden hose and water guns, and the spirit of holiday merriment is shared amongst all town residents and tourists alike.
Actually, a more appropriate question to ask is: ‘how to avoid getting wet during Songkran’. No matter where you go, chances are you will get wet. But if you like the idea of getting soaked from head to toe, and some wild party scene, be sure to drop by Kao San Road or Silom. Be warned and arm yourself with a powerful water gun and clean bottled water (for washing off talcum powder smudges on your face).