Celebrating Songkran: The Traditional Thai New Year
Water splashing uncontrollably, people laughing joyfully, and Thailand celebrating in unity can only mean it’s Songkran.
It’s no secret how Thai people love to smile and are naturally friendly, both to locals and tourists alike. They value their origin and uphold their culture by continuing to practice their traditions to this very day.
Thai people take pride in their celebrations, especially Songkran, which is one of their most well-known festivals. It is highly anticipated by travelers from different parts of the world.
But just what is in this festival that makes it so special?
The Significance of the Traditional Thai New Year
The festival begins on the 13th of April and lasts until the 15th, with festive activities immensely participated by locals and tourists alike.
In Sanskrit, the word Songkran translates to “astrological passage.” It means passing, approaching, or moving and changing. This traditional celebration marks the start of the Buddhist New Year.
As part of the celebration, images of Buddha are bathed in fragrant water, while monks and elders are showered with respect by the people. It is believed that pouring water over the heads of the senior Buddhist monks will bring you good luck.
At the same time, families and friends spend the holiday together to visit temples and give their offerings. While the festival usually lasts for at least three days, interestingly, depending on which area you are in Thailand by the time of the celebration, festivities can last from three to ten days.
How Songkran is Celebrated
The prestige of the traditional Thai New Year lives in the hearts of many, and Thai women are no exception. If you’re dating one, you must learn and understand the essence of the occasion.
Here’s how they celebrate this special day:
- Families come together to spend the New Year together.
Younger members of the family pour silver cups of jasmine-scented water over the hands of their elders. They also do the same for the images of Buddha as a sign of great respect.
- People clean their houses.
Because the word Songkran means to change, Thai people deem the idea of cleaning their houses as a fresh start to their lives.
- Sand pagodas are built.
Since a lot of them visit temples to pay respects and give their offerings, they also take the opportunity to bring sand and replace what has been carried away from the temple all year round by the people visiting. They also build sand pagodas and decorate them with vibrant-colored flags.
- Fish and birds are set free.
People of Thailand give merit to themselves by releasing fish and birds back to where they belong by carrying their bowls and cages during parades as part of the activities of Songkran. They also think of this gesture as a way of saving a life.
It’s always interesting to know the customs and beliefs of the people from Thailand. As it is one of the things that unifies them as a nation, knowing that their practices are still valued until this very day is impressive.
The Phenomenal Water Fights of Thailand
Songkran is also the time to let loose and have fun. Since April is one of the hottest times of the year, many could use a break from the heat. As an interracial couple, it is also an ideal time to meet and celebrate with the locals and with her family, whom you will soon call your very own.
Many years ago, water splashing was not the kind of celebration for the people in Thailand. They used to dip their fingers into bowls filled with fragrant water, the same water used for the images of Buddha and the elders, and sprinkle them on others to show respect.
As time passed, the practice evolved into what is now a mass water fight, which is a lot more engaging and festive. People would bring water guns, while some use buckets, hoses, water balloons, and other vessels that can hold water.
Because these water fights happen in public spaces, anyone who passes by will always get soaked and encouraged to join in the fun. As you see, the locals naturally want everyone to take part in the celebration with them, and that includes you.
If you’re visiting your Thai girlfriend this April to experience the occasion, gear up and wear your finest bathing suit underneath your travel clothes!
How to be One with Thailand
Understanding a Thai woman means recognizing the importance of this occasion to her heritage. As her partner, one of the most polite things you can do for her is to respect the meaning of the celebration and Songkran itself.
So you won’t feel left out, keep these tips in mind:
Wear the right and appropriate clothing. Wearing see-through, mesh, lace, and white-colored clothes is discouraged as they might get too revealing when wet. The same goes for cropped tops and bathing suits. Instead, wear long trousers and a button-up shirt.
Put on sunscreen. Since you’ll be spending most of your time under the heat of the sun, protect yourself by wearing sunscreen. Also, protect your eyes by donning a pair of sunglasses.
Waterproof your belongings. Better yet, don’t bring stuff that you do not want to get wet or lose. If possible, place your gadgets and money in a waterproof pouch, or don’t bring them with you at all.
Don’t play aggressively. Despite everyone’s excitement for the festival, safety should be a priority. This said, avoid splashing water into someone’s eyes, ears, and other body parts that shouldn’t be doused with water.
Stay hydrated. Despite the abundance of water during the festivities, you can still get dehydrated. This mainly happens due to the hot weather, so make sure to carry a bottle of drinking water with you to avoid heatstroke.
This year, give a twist to your New Year celebration by spending it with your Thai woman in Thailand! This might be your best shot at earning trust and impressing her family. Who knows? Travel to the land of smiles and experience this once-a-year festival.
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