Dousing Days – The traditional Thai New Year – Songkran

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The traditional Thai New Year – Songkran – is really more than just a water-splashing festival; it embodies essential characteristics that make Thailand a truly amazing country

By Atthasith Khupratakul

April is a great summer month to be in Thailand, and especially between April 13 and 15 when the country celebrates its traditional New Year, famous around the world as “Songkran.” Around the country, it’s a time for laughter and entertainment, for religious ceremonies and merit making, for families and friends, and of course for splashing water – and lots of it!

But while the spirit of good-natured fun and water splashing permeates this Thai holiday season, “Songkran” really embodies the essential values at the core of Thai society – enduring qualities such as caring and unity, which make Thailand truly amazing.

The Thai holiday has become famous the world over because of its characteristic tradition of water-throwing, which can range from a courteous sprinkle and a polite splash, to harmless water pistols and garden hose showers as well as the well-aimed bucket or water-cannon shots in festive spirit. Without a doubt, on the practical side, “Songkran” is a refreshing solution to “beating the heat” in the hottest season of the year.

There is a however a much deeper significance to “Songkran.” Apart from marking a new beginning, “Songkran” is also a time for thanksgiving. It is an important time for individuals to reflect upon the many acts of kindness and thoughtfulness each has personally experienced and to remember how such acts of generosity and compassion bring peace, happiness and wellbeing. “Songkran” is also the time for reunions and family ties are renewed.

At the heart of each Thai custom and tradition, there is always a logical reason for its existence. The festive elements of the celebration, the cultural values, the social code of conduct and individual belief and practices are intertwined. “Songkran” embodies the traditional Thai cultural values.

The underlying significance of “Songkran” is the process of cleansing and purification — the purging of all ills, misfortune and evil and starting the New Year afresh with all that is good and pure. Water is symbolic of the cleaning process and signifies purity.

“Songkran” is a Sanskrit word meaning to “move into.” It refers to the orbit of the sun moving into Aries, and marks the end of a 12-month cycle and the beginning of a new solar year. Thus, it is really a New Year, a time of renewal for all Thais. But it’s also the kingdom’s most ‘sanuk’ (fun-filled) festival, celebrated with tremendous enthusiasm. In most parts of the country, “Songkran” extends over a period of just three day but can be longer in some areas, as in Pattaya, where it can lasts up to 10 days!

Visitors to Thailand can enjoy “Songkran” anywhere in Thailand – but major towns and cities hold the most spirited celebrations. If you want to enjoy this festival – be prepared to get really wet! But don’t worry, wherever you are – you probably will! So get ready to make your own splash too!

SONGKRAN SPECIALS!
To celebrate the Thai New Year hotel operators and other travel service providers create special packages offering several benefits if not big discounts. Call your favorite hotel or tour operator on how to enjoy some of them. Here are some that made it to our deadline:

Amari Orchid Pattaya
Pic - Songkran Splash Package Amaric OrchidA specially tailored ‘Songkran Splash Package, available from April 10 to 17, this package is for those staying a minimum of two nights stay at the hotel. Offer includes stay in a Superior Garden Room or Deluxe Tower Room, including breakfast, a complimentary room upgrade to the next category, free Internet access, 20% discount on any Breeze Spa treatments, one set lunch or dinner per stay at Tavern by The Sea restaurant and a special Amari Lion Doll welcome gift. Get a 10% discount for any additional nights booked. The package starts at Bt5,186++.

For more information, contact Amari Orchid Pattaya at 038-418-418

Centara offers rooms and water shooters
Centara Grand Beach Resort PhuketCentara Hotels & Resorts offers a special Songkran package at selected properties that for a minimum two nights’ stay and includes breakfast for two persons, a laundry credit, and a Songkran survival kit that includes two water shooters per room and plastic waterproof covers for valuables. Valid during April 10 to 16, the package is available at hotels and resorts in Bangkok, Pattaya, Rayong, Koh Chang, Krabi, Phuket and Chiang Mai.

The package is bookable via www.centarahotelsresorts.com/songkran

Centara Grand at CentralWorld
3.Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld - Swimming PoolCentralWorld is Bangkok’s epicenter for Songkran fun and there is no need to go home if you book a room with Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld, where special rates are available to Thailand residents only April 5-21. Superior World rooms at this five-star hotel are priced at only Bt2,888 net per night, including service charge and tax, the rate being for the room only, and for two people, with bookings starting from now. The rate is for residents of Thailand only, and guests will need to produce their Thai ID or their Thailand work permit upon arrival.

For more information and reservations, contact 02-100-123, ext 6759-6763 or cgcwreservation@chr.co.th

The Peninsula Bangkok
Deluxe Room IIThroughout the Songkran, The Peninsula Bangkok’s sumptuous comforts are offered from just Bt18,000* for two nights (minimum two nights’ stay, including complimentary American buffet breakfast for two) in a Deluxe Room with a glorious river view. A complimentary package ensures an unforgettable Songkran encounter. One of the highlights is the communal daylong water splashing ritual, for which the hotel will fully equip guests with a “Survival Package.” Also featured in the package are water squirting guns and traditional Thai-style Songkran attire for two people, and perfumed powder, as well as a complimentary two-hour tour for two along Bangkok’s timeless canals where picturesque life proceeds at a slower rhythm – as it has for generations. Early bookings are recommended.

For more information, or to make a reservation, contact the Reservations Department at 02-861-2388, via e-mail at reservationpbk@peninsula.com

Novotel Bangok on Siam Square
Traditional Songkran DelicaciesThere will be a “Wet and Wild Songkran Party” at Concept CM² of Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square April 12-14, with an all-night open bar (standard house pours only) for Bt650 per person. The energetic Crush Crew band heat things up with the latest pop, R&B and hip hop, and as the steam starts to rise resident DJs spin Pop and House, while the bar team cool things down with a selection of spirits and beers to keep chilled.

To find out more, contact 02-209-8888, ext. CM2 or visit www.CM2bkk.com.

Conrad Koh Samui
Conrad Koh Samui songkranConrad Koh Samui is offering 30% savings on the bed and breakfast rate during the festival. Guests who wish to stay at Conrad Koh Samui during Songkran can take advantage of the brand new “Dream Resorts 2013” promotion and save 30% on bed and breakfast when booked until May 14 for stays until Dec. 31. With the promotion, guests will enjoy a wonderful Songkran celebration in style.

For reservation or more information, e-mail conrad_koh_samui@conradhotels.com or visit www.conradkohsamui.com

The Sukosol, Bangkok
soBook The Sukosol, Bangkok’s two-night “Songkran Package” and enjoy staying at a Deluxe Room for Bt6,300++ from April 1-30. The package, created fro two persons, comes with unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi, daily breakfast, two signature drinks at aphhire Bar, late checkout at 3 p.m., buffet dinner at Patummat International Restaurant and more. Complimentary Songkran Survival Kit for guests staying between April 13 and 16 and 25% discount for booking extended nights.

For more information, contact 02-247-0123, ext. 1103-1108; e-mail: reservations@sukosolhotels.com

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