Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tips for those visiting Thailand for the Songkran festival in Bangkok and Ayutthaya

Songkran, the much-loved and much-anticipated yearly event in Thailand, is more than about water-fights and fun in the sun.

The Thai New Year traditions stretch back hundreds of years, and in a country as large and diverse as Thailand, how the festival is celebrated differs from province to province – each community having their own unique centuries-old traditions.

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Here are some tips on how to get the most out of Songkran, if you are visiting Thailand:

- In the morning, make merit and listen to temple sermons to understand and benefit from the spiritual side of the festival. Remember that during the New Year festival, the temple activities are the most important aspects of the celebration.

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- To purify or bathe the Buddha or other statues, water should not be poured directly onto the head of the relic. Rather, water should be poured on other parts of the statue’s torso.

- The custom of pouring water onto the hand of elders’ (people above 60 years old), is to show respect and seek their New Year blessings. This custom is called the Rod Nam Dum Hua ritual.

- Water that is used to splash on others should be clean or mixed with Thai traditional fragrances.

- Avoid throwing water aggressively or using high-pressure water guns or hoses.

- Avoid throwing water with ice.

- Women should be wary of wearing tight clothes or ones that are light in colour and/or made of thin fabric. When wet, such garments can become quite revealing, raising the risk of sexual harassment.


Here are some of the locations to celebrate Songkran where ancient traditions are still being observed.

Central Region Bangkok
12-15 April 

The Phra Buddha Sihing image from the National Museum will be taken on a parade around the Bangkok Municipal Administration for the public to bathe and pray to. Visitors are suggested to wear Thai traditional clothes.

For more urban ways of celebrating Songkran, go to the streets of Khao San and Silom, where revellers will swarm the area in search for a riotous good time.

13-15 April 

Join locals in celebrating Songkran in the ancient capital of Ayutthaya with a merit-making ceremony at Viharn Phra Mongkolborpit as well as the procession of Miss Songkran and elaborately-decorated floats, and a bathing Buddha image.

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