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MAIN Arrow to Home Life - HolidaysHolidays Arrow to Thai New Year Songkran Festival Thai New Year, Songkran Festival 2023

Songkran (สงกรานต์) is the traditional Thai New Year water festival which starts on April 13 every year.

The word Songkran comes from the Pali language of the Therevada Buddhist scriptures (Sankhara) and the Sanskrit word (Sankranti) for movement or change.

songkran festival water fight!
It's water, water everywhere -- during Thailand's annual Songkran festival.

In ancient 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. This year, Songkran festivities begin on Thursday, April 13, 2023.

Although the Thai people officially changed the New Year to coincide with the Western custom of January 1, the traditional Songkran Festival is still celebrated in April as a national holiday in Thailand.

The festival lasts for 4 days.

The Songkran Festival shares some similarities with the Holi festival in India celebrated around at 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.

While in India the throwing of colored water marks Holi, the Thai Songkran Festival involves throwing clear water - and lots of it! - although many add colored powders and scents to the water in playful "water wars."

Songkran history & customs

Laos-10-124 (8686948504)
Decorating for the holidays: Families
take great pride in creating the holiday
sand pagoda during Songkran.

The tradition 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 later evolved into 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 with water.

While water is its main symbol, sand is another important part of the Thai tradition duriing the festival. In many temples people bring sand to symbolically replace the sand that they have carried away on their sandals throughout the year.

Sand pagodas for Songkran called phra chedis sai are also decorated with colorful flags and flowers as part of the New Year festivities. And local temples usually organize a family competition with prizes given to the best looking sand pagodas!

The foods 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.

also see -> Thailand's Top Ten Tourist Tips

More about Songkran New Year festivities around the Web:

Songkran History and Origin - Check out an entertaining explanation of the history of the Songkran Festival with all of the traditions and modern day celebrations.

Songkran Festival - 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.

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