It is nearly time for the most popular Thai Festival, Songkran 2011, which takes place all over Thailand in mid April every year. This is the traditional Thai new year which is the most enjoyable of all festivals both for Thai people and foreign tourists. Songkran is widely known as the water festival as people have lots of fun splashing water over each other during the three day festival. However, Songkran is more than just waterfights. I took the following pictures in Samut Prakan Province of some more Songkran activities. Other provinces in Thailand will also have their own festivities similar to this for Songkran.
Early on the morning of 13th April, I will be joining hundreds of local people in Samut Prakan to give alms to monks. Thai people do this to make merit which is a good way to start the new year [More Pictures].
Many cities around Thailand will have Songkran Parades to mark the start of the festival. I took the picture of this colourful float in a parade at Phra Pradaeng in Samut Prakan [More Pictures].
During Songkran there are also beauty contests to find the most beautiful Thai woman and also the most handsome Thai man. The winners will take part in the parade.
During Songkran, it is traditional for Thai people to return to their ancestral homes and to pour water on the hands of their elders. They will also do this to anyone older than themselves that have been important in their lives like a teacher or other relative.
At the temples they also organize ceremonies where you can go and pour rose scented water onto Buddha images and onto the hands of monks. This monk is having some fun pouring cold water onto the backs of some novice monks [More Pictures].
Another traditional activity for Songkran is making sand pagodas. This is a competition joined by local families to make the most beautiful pagoda made of sand. The original idea was for people to bring sand back to the temple which they may have inadvertently carried away on the sole of their shoes [More Pictures].
Another way of making merit during the Songkran Festival is by releasing fish and birds back into the wild. I took this picture at Wat Prodket in Phra Pradaeng which is probably the most beautiful place to see this [More Pictures].
So, as you can see, there is plenty to see and do during Songkran Festival 2011. Although I took all of these pictures in my home province of Samut Prakan, similar events will be taking place all over Thailand. You can follow me on Twitter @RichardBarrow if you want to learn more. I will also be posting live pictures and photo albums on my Facebook page Richard.Thailand. Feel free to add me as a friend.