The annual Songkran festival takes place each year on 13th, 14th and 15th April. The festival celebrates the Thai new year, which is on 13th April.
There are different aspects to Songkran in Thailand. One is considered the traditional aspect to it, which is the gentle and respectful pouring of water over the hands of ‘seniors’, senior either in age or status, or of other people you respect (parents or teachers, for example). This side of Songkran is popular with the older generation.
Some Thai Buddhists also take the opportuity to ‘make merit’ by giving things such as food, flowers and money to monks. In Phimai, lots of people gathered together to do this at the town clock at 8am on 13 April. See picture above.
Another aspect to the festival is throwing water at people. Arguably, this is the most popular aspect of Songkran, especially with the young or young at heart. As April is usually the hottest month in Thailand, this part is not only great fun for the participants, it’s also a great way to keep cool for a few days while letting go of your inhibitions. Many people use water guns to soak other people while others use buckets or smalll plastic bowls to scoop up water to throw at others. Water fights take place on road-sides up and down the country. See picture above.
Invariably there are many traffic problems during the Songkran festival. Some parts of towns and cities in Thailand become gridlocked with traffic crawling along and people singing, dancing and throwing water at each other throughout the day. In Phimai town, the roads near or leading to the Banyan tree area seemed to me to have the most cars and revellers this year. Thai authorities encourage people to end each day’s water throwing at about 6pm or 7pm. By that time, the loud music is usually greatly reduced.
Some Thai language appropriate to the Songkran festival:
(สวัสดีปีใหม่) – sawat-dee bpee mai = Happy New Year
(สุขสันต์วันสงกรานต์) – suk-san wan song-graan = Happy Songkran
(สนุก) – sanuk = fun