While it is statistically impossible to know exactly how many times you will get wet at Songkran, whether doused by a bucket of ice water, sprayed by a fire truck’s hose or trunked by an elephant, there is another way to look at it. You will only ever get wet once and every time after that is simply keeping you from drying off.
The entire celebration of the Thai New Year is about respect that is ironically thrown out the window in most cities around the country in favour of large-scale watery warfare. But, just like a monsoon, the downpour is over quickly, and within three days the cities return to their usual hustle and bustle.
The Allure of Water
It’s no surprise that Thailand is characterised by a healthy love and respect for water. It has been often said that Songkran actually contributes to the monsoon season due to the sheer amount of water flowing through the water pistols of the youth during the three days’ festivities.
So what is it about the annual celebration that attracts so many thousands of visitors from all over the world? ‘Too escape the heat’ can be quickly ruled out as Songkran temperatures reach around 32°C (or 89.6°F).
The answer is most likely to be found in the fact that Songkran is one of only a handful of festivals around the world virtually ungoverned by rules and regulations. In fact, many a time have members of the police and fire department become prime targets for the water-throwing adventurers.
Good Advice To Celebrate By
While most of the inhabitants in and around the major cities in Thailand such as Patong are used to seeing chaos run wild in the streets in the form of young boys and girls carrying large buckets of ice water, many are not. If you will be participating:
- Protect yourself: You will get wet regardless of whether or not you can fight back
- Keep your valuables safe: Your best bet is to just leave them back at your hotel
- Stay hydrated: Even with all the water around it’ll still be hot and you’ll need to cool off
It pays to be courteous around temples and shrines and places where the traditional methods of celebration by local elders are kept intact. Idols of Buddha that reside in private homes and places of worship were originally cleansed with purifying water and paraded through the streets.
Wan Nao and What It Means
If you ever hear the phrase, Wan Nao, they are the words used to describe the customary ways of celebrating Songkran and it’s still practiced to this day. Sand is taken into the temples for Buddhists to craft chedis (sand castles resembling temple shrines) and water is poured over the hands of village elders.
So if you’re in the mood for some local culture during your stay at Songkran, you should definitely take the time to fit in a little sightseeing. Before you know it, Songkran will be here again.