Countdown to Songkran: Thai New Year 2011

Songkran 2011

Songkran 2011

In less than 12 hours it will officially be Songkran ( Thai New Year ) are you ready?

Thailand celebrates 3  New Years every year with the first being the traditional New Years adopted and celebrated by the whole world on Dec 31st/Jan 1st. The second New Yeas observed is Chinese New Year which generally falls in February. The final New Years observed is Songkran which is the Thai New year and that takes place on the 13th – 15th every April. Up until 1940 Songkran was the official Thai New year but in 1940 Thailand began observing January 1st as the official start to the new year while still keeping Songkran as a national holiday.

Even though the Thai’s,  as well as the rest of the world, follow the Gregorian Calender they also still follow the Buddhist calender which has a 543 year difference from the Gregorian calender. In Gregorian terms the year is 2011 while the Buddhist calender has the year as 2554.

Traditionally Songkran marks the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season. Songkran is a time of cleaning and renewal of oneself and ones beliefs. It’s a time when all Buddhist images will be cleaned as well as Thai households. Songkran is also a time to make New Years resolutions to be better and do better in ones life.

Songkran is also the worlds largest water fight!

The water fights originated from the practice of catching the water used to clean Buddhist statues and images and then pouring the blessed water upon the shoulders of the faithful which was thought to bring good luck. As this practice went forward the younger generation took hold of the practice to get it where we have it today, 3 days or more of water fights from sun up to sun down.

Songkran generally only lasts 3 days but in some more touristy towns such as Pattaya it’s extended to a week…and what a week. If you don’t like being drenched and covered with powder then Songkran isn’t for you, many expats in Thailand choose this time of year to visit their home countries or take a vacation to avoid Songkran all together. If you are like me though, Songkran is an absolute blast and I wouldn’t miss it.

Songkran floral shirts 2011You have to be prepared though if you are going to participate. The first necessity is a brightly colored floral shirt, it isn’t Songkran without one. The second necessity is small arms to protect you until you can get to bigger weapons. As you can see from the opening Pic I have my shirt and my small arms so I am generally set to make it to the street tomorrow.

The first order of Business on the first day of Songkran is visiting the local temple for blessings. Myself and a few Thai friends will be doing just that at 7am but you can bet I’m not going to the temple empty handed, I’ll be packing because I know what will await us as we leave.

Songkran small arms  2011The small arms will suffice until I can make it to a water cannon vendor. A water cannon is a 3-4 foot piece of pvc with a plunger mechanism to suck up the water and then shoot it back out like a cannon…if you don’t have this and access to a 55 gallon drum of water then you might as well just stay home because you will get decimated.

Over the next few days I’ll be sharing many pictures and videos of all the water fighting fun so if you can’t join in or just don’t want to you can live it vicariously through me.

On a final note: Songkran is a special time of year in Thailand meant to be fun and shared with friends, family and loved ones. This often includes drinking and unfortunately many deaths due to drunk driving under serious conditions. Please, if you are in Thailand enjoy Songkran responsibly…DON’T DRINK and DRIVE. Also keep in mind that Songkran is meant to be fun so don’t go overboard with it and injure yourself or others. And please keep in mind that Songkran fun is from sunup to sundown, after sundown put the water away.



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9 Responses to Countdown to Songkran: Thai New Year 2011
  1. Oneditorial
    April 12, 2011 | 6:02 pm

    I miss Songkran too. Nowadays, it is effectively a water fight. In the past, when I was young, my parents taught me to politely warn the victim first before gently splashing water on them. Modern Songkran is a kind of bastardised version. It is awesome nonetheless. Everyone needs to get wet from time to time.

    • Talen
      April 13, 2011 | 9:40 am

      One, Pattaya Songkran is definitely the basterdized kind…it started last night at 9pm and no one cares what time of day or night it is.

  2. thaistory
    April 12, 2011 | 10:52 pm

    I’ve been in Thailand for 9 years now and the longer I stay here, the more I want to remain DRY during Songkran. It’s not that I don’t like the festival anymore, on the contrary, but the novelty of getting into a water fight with random people on the street kind of wears off after a while. I think last year I manged not to get wet for the entire holiday.
    thaistory recently posted..‘Nadia’ by Nick Sweet – A short story set in Saudi Arabia and LebanonMy Profile

    • Talen
      April 13, 2011 | 9:35 am

      Thai, The novelty does tend to wear off especially here in Pattaya where it starts early, goes late and is 24 hours a day.

  3. I-nomad
    April 13, 2011 | 12:19 am

    Nice photo Talen,
    That’s all the basic equipment you need..
    I-nomad recently posted..Happy Songkran!My Profile

    • Talen
      April 13, 2011 | 9:36 am

      I-Nomad, That’s enough to get me a few blocks but If I don’t find the bigger guns by then I could be in trouble.

  4. Paul Garrigan
    April 13, 2011 | 5:03 pm

    Hi Tim, I’ve managed to keep dry so far this Songkran. It is really quite where we live in Minburi because most of our neighbors have gone back to Issan (or wherever else their extended family happens to live). My mother is visiting and she doesn’t want to get wet so that has put a dampener on things. I will probably take my son for a walk later and we can look for a water fight :-)
    Paul Garrigan recently posted..My Experiences with a Stand Up DeskMy Profile

    • Talen
      April 14, 2011 | 11:44 am

      Paul, Happy Thai New Year and I hope you and your son find some good water fights :)

  5. [...] then yesterday Talen started taunting me with a promised run of Songkran posts! AGHHHHH! What’s a gal to [...]