What is Songkran?
Songkran is the traditional New Year Festival of the Thai, it takes place every year at the same time from the 13th to the 15th of April. In the tradition of Thai there are many rituals for the New Year, which are regarded as a sign of cleansing and a new beginning. Water plays the essential role in the Songkran and not only the houses and dwellings are thoroughly cleaned, what made the Songkran New Year Festival known worldwide are the phenomenal water battles.
Songkran goes (usually) over three days, (in some provinces also longer), with the Thai on the first day traditionally clean their homes. On the second day, people prepare food for the Buddhist ceremonies on New Year's Day. On the third day, many Thai people visit the temples with their prepared food and give the monks food and other gifts. In the temples the Buddha statues are drizzled with water, this traditional custom happens in the hope that the new year will bring good luck.
In many temples chedis are built of sand. The original chedis are large towers, similar to a bell with a tapered cone, symbolizing a place of worship. During the Songkran festival, many believers bring sand into the temples and build sand chedis. These are usually rather inconspicuous and simple, they symbolize the return of the sand in the temples, which was carried by the visitors throughout the year, the sand returns symbolically back to the place of origin. The sand chedis are often decorated with colorful little flags and flowers.
The Songkran New Year Festival means the Thai as a respect statement to older people and the family members. It is the custom of the younger water to pour into the hands of their parents and grandparents, they give them gifts and show their gratitude. The elders give their blessings to the younger ones. The custom symbolically includes washing away all the mishaps of the past year and positively welcoming the new year. There is a lot of festivals on the streets, the spirit of the New Year is celebrated by locals and tourists alike, and water battles have developed over the years.
Happy New Year
The New Year's greeting in Thai is "Sawadee Pi Mai". Try it and you might not just get a smile back for it, but also a compliment à la "phut thai gkeng" (you speak Thai well).
Alcohol is consumed excessively at Songkran, causing a dramatic increase in accidents every year, causing many people to be injured and killed every year. The main reason is the alcohol, which has fatal consequences, especially in road traffic, and among the victims are many motorcyclists.