Recently we wrote about the festivities of Songkran, now we want to tell you about Thai Culture at Songkran.
So, let’s talk about the other side of Songkran, the deep and beautiful Thai Culture the activities and ceremonies that the Thai people observe at this time.
Nowadays Songkran has been given a specific date in the calendar, April 13 (the biggest day or Maha Songkran Day) till April 15, but traditionally it was celebrated when the sun moved into Aries, signifying a new year and the beginning of spring, making the holiday Thai New Year.
There are a number of meaningful traditions surrounding these three days.
The Thai people usually have the entire week off, because at this time they love to connect with their roots and family by returning to their home province, a little bit like we Americans (yes, I’m an American) do at either Thanksgiving or Christmas or both.
The traditions surrounding Songkran differ from region to region.
In the Central region, of which Bangkok is part, on April 13 they dress in colourful clothing and traditional Thai dress.
After the early morning tradition of giving food to monks, Thais will then offer a requiem to their ancestors.
Following this, they concentrate on making merit, and there are a number of ways they do this: giving sand to the temple for construction or repair; releasing birds and fish into the wild and in recent years a variety of other animals as well.
There are three rules that Southern Thais including Phuket observe during Songkran:
1. Work as little as possible,
2. Avoid spending money and
3. Do not hurt people or animals or tell lies.
In the North of Thailand, fireworks and guns are featured parts of their celebrations, thought to ward off bad luck. Food is prepared the first day to take to the temple the second day. At the temple, they earn merit by washing Buddha statues.
In the East of Thailand, the traditions are similar except that they go to the temple all three days and create a sand pagoda there. Special food is also shared with the eldest members of the family.
It is also a time to honour ancestors and elderly people, so all over the country, hand washing ceremonies are held. During these, the adults will sit in chairs while children pass by one by one, kneeling down and pouring scented water over the hands of their elders, receiving blessings in return.
So if you are visiting here or even if you live here full-time, I suggest you not only celebrate the wild and woolly water fights but try to take part in and observe the other Thai Culture traditions to round out your understanding of this unique holiday.
Often these ceremonies are accompanied by traditional Thai Culture dancing and music, which are always a delight with their gentle, graceful movements and tunes.
Whatever you do over Songkran, respect the Thai Culture and have a great and safe time.