The Songkran water festival is a highly important event on the calendar of Thailand. The name of the Songkran water festival originates from the Sanskrit word ‘saṃkrānti’, which translates to mean passing into, or moving into. This makes sense, as Songkran is a festival taking place as each New Year begins, as the planetary bodies pass into new orbits. The traditional New Year period in Thailand is typically between the 13th of April and the 15th of April. The festivities usually continue over a three day period.
The Songkran water festival is so called because water plays a big role in the celebrations. Visitors to Thailand during the period of the Songkran festival should be prepared to get wet – but thankfully April is the hottest month of the year in the country, making it a fine way to cool off as the mercury continues to rise. The Songkran water festival is all about renewal, cleansing and new beginnings. Homes and businesses typically get a fresh coat of paint and a spruce up, while religious idols are given regeneration and washed clean with fragrant water.
Prepare to Get Wet
The people of Thailand, locals and tourist alike, will also experience the unique water based amusement that accompanies the Songkran water festival. While the more distinguished, elder members of Thai society typically experience a deferential pouring of water over the hands, younger visitors to Thailand during the Songkran water festival will be greeted with a more boisterous, carnival atmosphere. It is not surprising to see total strangers douse other people with water on the street. Indeed, this practise has now become an essential part of the Songkran water festival.
The soaking of other people in water is said to represent the cleansing away of impurities and bad past deeds, as well as giving the subject of the impromptu bath a supposed slice of good luck for the next year ahead. This is the official reason, though no doubt the prospect of a massive water fight is also a good motivation to join in the fun. It is all good natured though, with a real feeling of a communal bond as people pack the streets to revel in the festivities, let off steam and let their hair down. Look out for those who arm themselves with water pistols and hoses – if you do not want to get drenched it is probably best to bring a raincoat, an umbrella and perhaps some swimming goggles!
Attack is the Best Form of Defence
No one is safe from a potential drenching, so be sure to leave anything you do not wish to get wet at your hotel room or in some other safe, water free location. Be sure to join in the fun of this unique event, and do not take it personally if you happen to get a little – or a lot – wet. The best form of defence is attack, so they say, so grab a bucket of water and arm yourself to the teeth with water based weapons. Prepare yourself for the Songkran water festival, a truly unique and wonderful Thai experience.