Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Songkran Festival 2011

It would be great to experience Songkran Holiday, once again. Songkran is the Buddhist new year here in Thailand. In a nutshell, this celebration is similar to what we are celebrating in the Philippines every 24th of June – Nativity of St. John the Baptist or San Juan Bautista in Tagalog.

If you happen to be in Thailand during your vacation, you might as well stay indoors because the people in the streets will throw water on you. For it's a given fact that you won't escape the water pistols, the water balloons and buckets of water as the Thais celebrate Songkran, the Thai New Year. If you love the water, then.. be ready to get wet! This event will be on April 13-15, 2011.

Last year, people in my neighborhood were afraid to throw water on me because I was pregnant then. And they are afraid that I might slipped and hurt myself too bad. I was glad that they avoided me but, I would love to join throwing water on people too!

'Songkran' (from the Sanskrit word Sankranti, signifying the sun's shift from one zodiac to another) heralds the beginning of the solar year and is the most important festival for the people of Thailand. The festival is celebrated over three days, 'Mahasongkran' on the 13th of April marks the end of the old year, Wan Nao (14th April) is the day after and April 15 is Wan Thaloeng Sok when the New Year begins. Sonkgran is akin to the Indian festival of Holi and the Chinese festival of Ching Ming. Though it is celebrated all over Thailand with great gusto and enthusiam, it is in Chiang Mai that the Thais hold the very important ritual of bathing the Buddha and people from all over come to be witness to this event.

On New Year's Day, Thais pray to Buddha, clean temples and houses, offer alms to the monks and sprinkle scented water on elders as a mark of respect. The pouring of water is symbolic of the cleansing of the spirit, mind and body. The water is also supposed to wash away bad luck - so consider yourself blessed if you get drenched! Happily, Songkran falls during the hottest time of the year and the water is a welcome relief.



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