Songkran: A Thai Holi…

They say you haven't lived until you've been to Thailand during the Songkran Festival. Okay...maybe 'they' don't really say that, but photos taken by tourists from around the world would definitely lead you to believe that surely there's some truth to this as the colorful and vibrant pictures just seem to scream, "Life!"

So what's Songkran, you ask?

The Songkran Festival is a yearly, nation-wide event that serves to celebrate the Thai New Year, while also drawing focus to the family as well as the country's Buddhist heritage. As with many New Year's celebrations, it's that time of the year when new trumps the old, and much emphasis is placed on ridding oneself of bad behaviours and thoughts; ushering in clean and positive ones. If you’re wondering why Indians would find Songkran celebrations familiar, the answer is that it’s very similar to one of our most loved festivals—Holi. Songkran surely takes after our Holi festival, which celebrates the triumph of ‘good’ over ‘bad’. But then again, Thailand has followed many of our Indian cultural traditions over the years, the best known example being ‘Buddhism’. The links to India are evident almost from the moment you alight at Bangkok’s swanky Suvarnabhoomi airport, the name itself is more Indian than Thai.

During Songkran, this spirit of goodwill and restoration is conveyed with water---and lots of it too. To celebrate, locals take to the streets with spray guns, buckets, tubes and hoses with one thing on their mind, spraying that water; a welcome gesture in the soaring heat of the season. Sometimes even elephants get involved by spraying onlookers with their trunks. Picture tens of thousands of men, women, and children roaming the streets armed with squirt guns, water cannons, and buckets of icy cold water searching for their next victim. They travel on foot, piled onto scooters, or in the back of pickup trucks. No one is safe from their wrath. If you’re dry, you won’t be for long!

Songkran is Thailand’s biggest holiday, and the whole country comes to a stand-still for a couple of days while everyone cools off during the hottest month of the year. To the people of Thailand, the spraying of the water is a sign of spiritual renewal and cleansing. This special time of year is paired with spring-cleaning and lighthearted pranks, not unlike North America’s April Fool’s Day. The festival starts on April 13th and typically lasts three days. In keeping with the spirit of cleansing and renewal, the splashing of water symbolizes the washing off of the previous year's afflictions, and welcoming the New Year with a fresh start.

Besides drenching their neighbours with goodwill, locals celebrate the holiday by cleaning their homes, bathing Buddha statues, participating in Buddhist ceremonies, and spending time with family members. In fact, the first day of Songkran, National Elderly Day, is often observed with celebrants pouring fragrant water into the palms of their elders, asking for their blessings. As one part festival, one part water balloon fight, and one part national's no wonder, then, that Thailand has become a hot spot for tourists during Songkran. With that in mind, it's surely appropriate to file this under "My Travel to Do List."

Sounds like fun? This is just one of the many cultural treasures to be discovered in Thailand. Thailand is a wonderland of festivals, attractions and activities. From parasailing, snorkelling, speedboat ride, banana boat ride to Dolphin show, Sea Lion show, Elephant show & Thai cultural show, Thailand keeps you amazed. With its colourful wildlife, spectacular islands & famous Thai massages, this “Land of Smiles” is surely much more than just nightlife. You have to see it to believe it. So are you ready with your water guns to enjoy the Thai Holi this summer?

Team Veena World