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by Kauai Boy
May 13, 2005
"Happy Thai New Year!" The annual Songkhran Festival coincides with the Thai New Year on April 13, with celebrations ranging from the reverent to borderline insane, and the festivities last for three days. And when those three days fall in the middle of the week, many Thais take full advantage of an "extended" weekend.
The celebration starts with early-morning prayers and merit-making activities at a temple, including offering of food to the monks and a ritual bathing for Buddha images. This is followed by a traditional feast for family and extended family members.
Traditionally, water is sprinkled over one's head, signifying the washing away of bad luck. However, this rather innocent event has evolved into the more modern, and perhaps most world-renowned element of the festival – non-stop soakings and water fights anywhere and everywhere crowds gather. In the city, trucks drive by, packed with drenched revelers armed with bowls and a barrel of water (sometimes with ice!). On the streets, everyone is fair game. Street vendors take full advantage of the situation, with tables piled with toy water guns ranging from the standard pistol to the backpack water canon. Also sold are bags of some sort of powdered clay, which is mixed with water to form a thick mud. With this, people "paint" the faces (or any body part they can reach out to) of passersby, an act that serves as a blessing much as the water dousing is.
The celebration continues throughout the night, with the younger crowds packing into the narrow sois for wild, and sometimes dangerous, reveling. Whether deciding to head to the Silom district or to Khao San Road, the partying atmosphere is pretty much the same. Just remember, leave your valuables and electronics at your hotel – you WILL get wet. In fact, I just carried a small ziplock bag for my ID and some cash.
From journal Bangkok Revisited
by Nik Browne
London, United Kingdom
May 22, 2001
From journal bangkok rediscovered