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Happy Songkran (Thai New Year)
Songkran (The Thai New Year) is also known as the water festival. The traditional greeting is ‘Sawadee Pi Mai’, which means ‘Happy New Year’!
Songkran in Thai means to move or to change place. It symbolizes the movement of the sun from Pisces to Aries and the beginning of a new astrological year. It is traditionally associated with ancient Thai astrology and Buddhist beliefs. Songkran always falls sometime between 10 April and 18 April.
During the Songkran period in Thailand, many festivities take place. These include shows, dancing, eating, parades, beauty contests and the soaking of each other with water! If you are in Thailand during this period, the chances are you are going to get wet. Thai’s will use a variety of objects including buckets and water pistols to soak each other and anyone around them. This is all done in a good spirit with everyone enjoying themselves. The water theme of the festivities is a symbol of cleansing and centuries ago the Thai people would sprinkle scented water from bowls onto the hands of the elders in their families.
The traditional way of celebrating Songkran follows a three day pattern. The first day involves cleaning of all household items and the houses themselves. The second day is spent preparing Thai food, which will then be offered to the Thai monks. The third day signifies the actual ‘New Year’s Day’ and on this day Thai people visit their temples and present the monks with food and clothes. They bathe the statue of Buddha with scented water which they believe will bring them good luck for the forthcoming year.
Sometimes people have pagoda building competitions in the ceremonial grounds of the Thai temples (Wat’s). The grounds of the Wat are decorated with latticed fences and banners. Traditionally the open grounds of the Wat serve as a meeting place for the community during religious or festive occasions.
Thai food plays an important role during Songkran. There are many street vendors selling all sorts of Thai delicacies during the festivities. These can include Satay chicken, fresh fruits such as mangoes and papayas, etc.