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!
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:
For more information, contact Amari Orchid Pattaya at 038-418-418
The package is bookable via www.centarahotelsresorts.com/songkran
For more information and reservations, contact 02-100-123, ext 6759-6763 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, or to make a reservation, contact the Reservations Department at 02-861-2388, via e-mail at email@example.com
To find out more, contact 02-209-8888, ext. CM2 or visit www.CM2bkk.com.
For reservation or more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.conradkohsamui.com
For more information, contact 02-247-0123, ext. 1103-1108; e-mail: email@example.com