The Songkran Festival is the traditional Thai New Year’s Day and is celebrated from 13 April to 15 April 2017. Note: It might last until monday.
The word Songkran is from the Sanskrit language and means the passage of the sun from one sign of the Zodiac to another. That means there are twelve Songkran’s each year, but the significance of this Songkran (sometimes called Major Songkran to distinguish it from the others) is when the sun enters the sign of Aries the Ram. The particular event was also closely related to the Vernal Equinox.
The most famous aspect of the Songkran celebrations is the throwing of water. Songkran is often known as the Thai Water Festival. The custom originates from spring cleaning aspect of Songkran. Part of the ritual was the cleaning of images of Buddha. Using the ‘blessed’ water that cleaned the images to soak other people is seen as a way of paying respect and bring good fortune.
It also doesn’t hurt that April is the hottest part of the year in Thailand, so being soaked is a refreshing escape from the heat and humidity.
Nowadays Thais will walk the streets having ‘water fights’ using containers of water or water guns, or stand at the side of roads with a hose and soak any one who passes by.
You may also get covered in chalk, a custom originating from the chalk used by monks to mark blessings. So be prepared.
Now let’s get into the “Rules” . Yes there are list of “unwritten” rules that everyone should follow, so there will be a safe Songkran Festival.
- Be careful what water you use. Use clean water not dirty water. No ice cubes or HOT water.
- Dress appropriately. Remember, Thais are conservative. We don’t recommend you wear white, as when it gets wet it is see-thru. And please wear underwear. Also remember you will be soaked, so wear the proper shoes too.
- Bring some type of a water proof bag. You need something to store your valuables & cell phone in. In some places they will sell water proof bags that go around your neck.
- If your camera isn’t waterproof, be careful. As it will get soaked, period. You will not be able to protect it from the water.
- I have heard that some people advise the wearing of earplugs. Because of all of the dirty water that goes into your ears, they become infected.
- Maybe keep your mouth shut, when someone is throwing a bucket of water on you, this way you don’t drink it and maybe get sick later.
- Another very important rule, but you still a lot of people break this one. Don’t throw water on someone riding a motorcycle. As it could cause an accident.
Speaking of accidents. during the Songkran Festival, there seems to have more accidents during this time period. In 2016 442 people died, 3656 were injured in road accidents and 110,969 people were arrested. As you can see it is a wild festival.
Bottom line is this, if you go out anytime during the 13 – 15 of April, you will get wet. There is no way around it. So maybe put off going to a fancy restaurant until after the Water Festival.
The main thing I want to leave you with is,