Of all the feasts and festivals in Thailand, which are many,
the Songkran Festival is the most striking, for it is widely
observed not only in this country but also in Burma,
Cambodia and the Lao State.
Songkran is a Sanskrit
word in Thai form which means the entry of the sun into any
sign of the Zodiac. But the Songkran in this particular
instance is when the sun enters the sign of Aries or the
Ram. Its full name is Maha Songkran or Major Songkran to
distinguish it from the other ones. But the people call it
simply the Songkran for it is the only one they know and in
which they take interest. It is their traditional New Year
when they can enjoy their holidays to the full with no
economic hindrance. Songkran is a fixable feast on the solar
calender. It begins on the 13th April and ends on the 15th
April, but occasionally in certain years on the 16th April.
The Songkran is in fact the celebration of the vernal
equinox similar to those of the Indian Holi Festival, the
Chinese Ching Ming, and the Christian Festival of Easter.
The beginning of spring when the sun crosses the equator is
now on the 21st of March which is due to the precession of
the equinox. The Songkran Festival is in a certain sense
like April Fool's Day, when the maids of the village play
pranks on any gallant who happens to pass by their way. He
will be caught and bound by the united strength of the maids
and they will daub him with blacking.
is the Thai traditional New Year and an occasion for
family reunion. At this time, people from the rural
areas who are working in the city usually return
home to celebrate the festival. Thus, when the time
comes, Bangkok temporarily turns into a deserted
The festival falls on April 13
and the annual celebration is held throughout the
kingdom. In fact, "Songkran" is a Thai word which
means "move" or "change place" as it is the day when
the sun changes its position in the zodiac. It is
also known as the "Water Festival" as people believe
that water will wash away bad luck.
Thai traditional New Year begins with early morning
merit-making offering food to Buddhist monks and
releasing caged birds to fly freely into the sky.
During this auspicious occasion, any animals kept
will be set free. Paying homage to one's ancestors
is an important part of the day.
pay their respects to the elders by pouring scented
water over the palms of their hands. The elders in
return wish the youngsters good luck and prosperity.
In the afternoon, after performing a bathing rite for Buddha
images and the monks, the celebrants both young and old,
joyfully splash water on each other. The most-talked about
celebration takes place in the northern province of Chiang
Mai where Songkran is celebrated from April 13 to 15. During
this period, people from all parts of the country flock
there to enjoy the water festival, to watch the Miss
Songkran Contest and the beautiful parades. In Bangkok, the
Buddha image "Buddhasihing" is brought out from the National
Museum for people to sprinkle lustral water at Sanam Luang
opposite the Grand Palace.