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Songkran (Thai New Year )

Although Thailand officially observes New Year along with the rest of the world the ancient Thai new year known as Songkran is still observed and it is the largest and most fun of the Thai festivals.

Songkran, also known as the water festival, is celebrated in mid April and is the most important of festivals for Thai people. It’s a time of cleansing ones spirit as well as previous bad actions, the house and most importantly the Buddha figures. Songkran is also known as the worlds largest water fight!

Traditionally the Songkran ceremony was to pour water into the hands and drop scented water onto the head in order to wash away bad thoughts and actions…to cleanse ones spirit. Good words and wishes are spoken during the cermony for good luck in the coming new year.

The first day of Songkran is an important day to do good deeds. People visit the temples and give alms to the monks. The second day of the festival Thai people carry sand to the temples to build a small pagoda, this is called PHRA CHEDI SAI. These small sand piles represent personal pagodas built as part of a merit making ritual. The Thais believe when they leave a temple they take with them temple dust so making these pagodas of sand is giving back that which was taken. People also place flags at these sand pagodas to bring good luck.

The temples themselves traditionally move their holiest of Buddha statues to an outside pavillion for the people to sprinkle water on to purify it. You’ll also see people driving through the streets with Buddha statues in pickup trucks so they can be purified by the people.

Officially Songkran lasts only three days and all banks and government facilities are closed so the people can go home and celebrate with their families. More often than not Songkran unofficially starts a day early and in some provinces and cities, such as Pattaya, lasts more than a week. Songkran has literally turned into the worlds largest water fight and many tourist travel to Thailand this time of year just to take part in the daily Water hi jinx.

Unfortunately some tourists take the water fun too far by not observing the generally accepted rules of stopping water fights at dusk and not attacking someone not dressed for fun but for the most part everything goes well. One thing to consider if you are thinking of going to Thailand for Songkran is your safety. Streets are soaked and there have been accidents and deaths attributed to the water logged roads. Keep an eye out for your safety and you should have a blast.

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