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April 13 - April 15
“Rooted in Buddhist tradition, the purification ritual of sprinkling statues of the Buddha with water has evolved into a three-day countrywide water fight known as Songkran.”
The date of April 13 as the traditional Thai New Year and the pinnacle of Songkran was set firmly around 1940. Before that, the date floated according to a lunar calendar. It’s something of an anachronism to consider this date “the new year” because Thailand recognizes the Gregorian calendar and the year beginning on January 1, but Songkran is still celebrated vigorously as a national holiday.
The spiritual aspects of the Songkran Water Festival live on through observant Buddhists who douse statues of the Buddha in scented water. Many fast, pray and give thanks to elders and monks, focusing on welcoming positive energy and spirituality for the beginning of the new year. They build small sandcastle pagodas outside temples. In cities like Chiang Mai, enormous ornate floats carry statues of the Buddha through town, which people pelt with water in the name of renewal and cleansing – wash away evil spirits in anticipation of the Thai New Year.
The festival takes place in various cities throughout Thailand including Bangkok and Phuket. However, the festival’s epicenter takes place in the legendary city of Chiang Mai. Festivities take place around the seven-centuries-old moat in the Old City, the district with many ancient wats or temples. The moat is a wide, man-made river running through town bordered at various points by high brick walls, grassy embankments and the bustling activity of the city center.
During Songkran, a veritable water war takes place at the moat. People soak each other, drink, party and generally have a grand time. Water pistols, balloons, spray bottles and hoses are the vessels of purification around the moat as gallons of water are traded back and forth between revelers, usually accompanied by the traditional greeting, suk san wan songkran (Happy New Year!). As it’s typically over 100 degrees Fahrenheit during April in Thailand, you’ll definitely welcome the cool down at this exciting water festival.
There’s a lot more to Songkran than water fights. Elaborate floats and painted elephants parade through town. The Wisutkasat district hosts a Miss Songkran beauty contest. The streets of Chiang Mai and virtually any major city in Thailand teem with delicious local foods and most of the city shuts down to celebrate.
Source from everfest.