Songkran Festival: Celebrating the Happiest New Year in Thailand

Songkran Festival: Celebrating the Happiest New Year in Thailand

Thais celebrate their new year, known as the Songkran Festival, for three days, from April 13-15 with a country-wide water fight. During some of the hottest days in the year, everyone in Thailand throws water on each other and sprays one another with water guns and hoses. Since I arrived in October, everyone had been talking about Songkran , so I was looking forward to the celebration.

I was absolutely certain about one thing: the holiday would be absolutely crazy. Several people advised us not to carry our phones or any other valuables because everything would get soaked. We were told horror stories that cold water guns would be splashed in our faces and were warned against riding motor bikes that day because there had been many accidents in the past.

Songkran Festival: Celebrating the Happiest New Year in Thailand

While I celebrated the holiday in Kata Beach, Phuket, Southern Thailand, I learned that the festivities last longer in Northern Thailand–and up to five days in Chiang Mai.

They wished us a happy new year as they poured water from a silver bucket down our backs.

Before heading outside my friend and I geared up with bathing suits, water proof bags, sunscreen and buckets of water, and started walking down the street.

We didn’t even make it to the sidewalk by the time a group of Thai women who worked at the local bar surrounded us. They wished us a happy new year as they poured water from a silver bucket down our backs. It was so cold!

Within seconds, everyone was firing water guns and hoses. We were completely drenched. Then, all of a sudden, someone rubbed chalk and talc all over my cheeks–which is symbolic of the chalk that monks use to mark blessings–and said a blessing.

We didn’t even make it to the sidewalk by the time a group of Thai women who worked at the local bar surrounded us.

While the water fight is definitely fun, it is also meant to symbolically wash away all of the bad fortunes from the year before in order to welcome in the good fortunes of the new year. The word “Songkran” comes from the Sanskirt language and translates to “passing” or “approaching.” The rituals of this holiday began with cleansing and pouring water over Buddha images. This blessed water that is used to clean the images is seen as a way of paying respect and bringing good luck for the new year.

It is also a time of year meant for spending time with family, so many locals make their way to their hometowns for the occasion.  Throughout Songkran, many also visit temples to pour water on Buddha images and on the hands of the Buddhist monks.

Traditionally, Thai people would politely pour a bowl of water on members of their families and close friends. However, as time as passed, Songkran has become a bit more festive and now everyone just pours water on everyone. Each time we threw water on a Thai person, she would smile and thank us.

Songkran Festival: Celebrating the Happiest New Year in Thailand

Later in the day, we also met some wonderful Thai ladies who worked at a beauty salon. After pouring water on us and blessing us, they invited us to join their dance party and offered us food. As it started to rain, we danced in the street with the locals.

One older gentleman had the biggest smile on his face and kept yelling “happy, happy” at each of us. It truly was one of the happiest days I have ever spent in Thailand.

Songkran Festival: Celebrating the Happiest New Year in Thailand

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Photo credits for Songkran Festival: Celebrating the Happiest New Year in Thailand by Laura Lopez Blazquez. 

About Laura Lopez-Blazquez

Laura Lopez-BlazquezLaura Lopez-Blazquez is a Cuban-American, Miami Native who has spent the past 7 years living in New York City. She is all at once an educator, artist, writer, and avid coffee drinker. Her belief in the healing power of art and travel has led her adventurous spirit to live Germany, Spain, Italy and currently: Thailand. In this most recent stint overseas, Laura can be found teaching English while jet setting throughout Southeast Asia in search of good hearts and many smiles.

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