It's water, water everywhere -- during Thailand's annual Songkran festival.
is the traditional Thai New Year water festival which starts
on April 13 every year.
Songkran comes from the Pali language of the Therevada Buddhist
scriptures (Sankhara) and the Sanskrit word (Sankranti)
for movement or change.
times, it was celebrated as a moveable feast, and set to occur
as the sun moved into the Aries
portion of the zodiac. In modern times the date has been fixed
as April 13.
the Thai people officially changed the New Year to January
1 in 1940 to coincide with the Western world, the
traditional Songkran Festival is still celebrated as a national
holiday in Thailand.
lasts for 4 days.
Festival shares some similarities with the Holi
festival in India celebrated around the same time. One
custom that Songkran shares with Holi is the releasing of
small fish back into the rivers and steams. In Thailand, small
birds may also be released from cages as part of the festivities.
traces back to the pre-Buddist rituals of spring festivals
where the throwing of water was meant as a symbol of luck
to bring good rain for the crops. It was later converted to
the religious custom of cleansing the statues of Buddha once
a year. In many places there are parades with the statues
of Buddha and as the parades pass, crowds shower the Buddha
small amounts of scented lustral water on the heads of the
elders on Wan Parg-bpee as a sign of respect is also
part of this custom. In many temples throughout Thailand people
bring sand to symbolically replace the sand that they have
carried away on their sandals throughout the year. The sand
is formed into pagodas called phra
chedis sai and decorated with colorful flags as part
of the Songkran New Year festivities. It may be that this
tradition began as part of the cleansing rituals where new sand was added to the floor of the temple once a year.
that are served at traditional Songkran Festivals depend on
the part of Thailand you visit. Pad Thai Noodles; Khao
Chae, a delicious rice dish; Gaeng
Kiew Wahn Gai, chicken with green curry; krayasad,
a mixture made from puffed rice, oats, peanuts and Thai noodles
that is sweetened with palm sugar and coconut syrup; Kanom
Tom, sticky rice and mung bean balls piled high into
a pyramid shaped dessert and Kanom
Krok, coconut rice pancakes are some of the more universal
Thai foods enjoyed during the Songkran festival.
More about Songkran New Year festivities around the Web:
History and Origin
- Check out an entertaining explanation of the history of the
Songkran Festival with all of the traditions and modern day celebrations.
- With many resources and pictures this site gives a good look
at the modern Songkran holiday. Temple fairs and religious
activities are covered, along with some statistics on the problems that
the water throwing has brought about with drivers and visitors
from other lands...
Thai New Year Recipes - If you are planning a Songkran
festival of your own, or just feel like having some delicious
Thai food for dinner...these recipes cover the meal from salads
and appetizers through desserts.