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Thailand's Songkran: fantastic! Have fun and cool down at the same time!
Festivals / Fairs / Events
Member Name: doctordarke2389
Festivals / Fairs / Events
Date: 31/07/09, updated on 31/07/09 (17 review reads)
Advantages: Brings out the best in the amazing Thai people
Disadvantages: Not everyone (some foreigners) gets into the spirit of the festival
Thailand's songkran Festival.
This event, rather like Christmas in the West, has been diluted somewhat from what it was originally meant to be. Celebrated across Indo-China, Songkran is a primarily Buddhist religious occurence, that also has strong astrological overtures. Whilst it relates to ths sun moving into any zodiacal sign, it more specifically refers to entry into Aries, hence its celebration in April, alias the ram zodiac sign. Its full derivative name is Maha Songkran, or Major Songkran to clearly delineate it from other similar festivals.
It is the Thai's traditional New Year celebration, and they approach it with the same kind of enthusiam and joie de vivre that Westerners do with our equivalent. My experience of Songkran came earlier this year, when I was in Bangkok researching for a new book I'm writing. Its reputation preceded it, but I don't think I was quite ready for the total, uninhibited lunacy that I encountered. It was great.
Part of the ritualistic nature of Songkran entails a 'cleansing' which is originally about bathing sacred Buddha images, but now is extended to soaking anyone who comes within hosing distance. Seeing as it's permanently hot in Thailand, it can be quite a refreshing experience, although I disturbingly noted a number of farangs (foreigners) who became quite upset and aggressive towards people who kept throwing water over them. It seems to me that they are the types who can't be bothered to read up on local customs and habits prior to setting off to a country for the first time. When in Rome ...
I did, however note that the water-throwing incidents tended to be in certain parts of the city; there was little activity up near my hotel in Chon Buri, but the fights (used loosely) were quite intense and protracted down the low-number sois (lanes) that branch off of Sukhumvit Road.
It is worth further noting that sometimes people are smeared with what appears to be talcum powder; this may be connected to that part of the festival in which Thai people take sand into temples which is apparently a way of making reparations for what they may have taken out.
Finally, note that the methods of dispensing water over people isn't just by hose - buckets, powdered water guns, fire engines, etc., are also used. You have been warned ..
Summary: Don't hang around - get there and do it before you die
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