One of the biggest and most spectacular Songkran celebrations in Thailand is held in Phra Pradaeng district of Samut Prakan. Unlike the rest of the country, the local people here celebrate Songkran a week later. This means that if you know where to go, you can enjoy the fun of Songkran at least twice. The main events in Phra Pradaeng were held over the weekend with the big parade on Sunday. The pictures here are of the opening ceremony held at the municipal offices of Phra Pradaeng District. The guest of honour was Samut Prakan Governor Mr. Kwanchai Wongnitikorn who can be seen here cutting the ribbon.
The ceremony went on for about an hour. They started a bit late which meant that the local people lining the streets had to wait in the sun for the parade to start. While they were waiting they enjoyed themselves playing waterfights. In this next picture, Sunchai Khanasa, one of the deputy governors of Samut Prakan Province, is pouring scented water over the Buddha image.
Next they released caged birds. The idea is that you are doing kindness to the birds by allowing them to go back into the wild. Forgetting of course that they were captured just for this event.
In this picture, Samut Prakan Governor Mr. Kwanchai Wongnitikorn, is releasing some fish. This is a common sight in temples and many people think it is a Thai tradition. In fact, the Mon people from Burma brought it here.
Another traditional event that takes place during Songkran is sprinkling scented water onto the hands of your elders. In Thai this is called “rot nam dum hua”. In this picture, the governor then blessed the young lady by sprinkling the water on her head.
Next came a short dance in the Mon tradition. They not only dress differently to Thai people, but they also have their own dance routines. It is a shame that not many people were here to witness any of these cultural activities. It seemed to be mainly local officials and people of the media.
The next event was a brief introduction of the game Saba. In the old days there weren’t many opportunities for people of the opposite sex to meet and court each other. So, instead they used games such as this one. In this picture the Governor and his team are having a try themselves. I will post more on this later.
The final cultural activity of the extended opening ceremony was a demonstration of the making of kalamae. It is a bit like our Caramel and is based on the same word. It took them nearly all day to make one batch by continuously stirring. A team of strong men are needed. The Governor and his team tried for just a few minutes! I will write about this more later.
That was the end of the opening ceremony. We were now ready for the grand Songkran parade through the streets of Phra Pradaeng. I will share with you my pictures tomorrow. In the meantime, we have ben posting some pictures of this event on our Samut Prakan Forums. You can also find more information on our Samut Prakan website at www.paknam.com. Make sure that you mark it in your calendar for next year as this is one of those places that doesn’t see many foreign tourists.