The First Day of Songkran

Songkran in Thailand has become famous around the world as one big water fight. However, in reality, there is a lot more to this festival which marks the start of the traditional Thai new year. These are some of the pictures that I took on the first day, 13th April. The day started early with prayers, chanting and giving alms to monks. By making merit in this way the Thais believe that they will get good luck for the new year.

Next came the pouring of rose scented water over the hands of senior citizens. Elderly people are greatly respected in Thai society and people all over Thailand took part in this ceremony called “Rod Nam Dam Hua” with their parents and grandparents. They would also pour water on the hands of any revered adults. In return they would receive a blessing. This is really how all the water fights started.

Later in the morning came the Songkran Parade through the city. There were colourful floats and marching bands. The main float is for the seven daughters of a Prince who take turns to be Nang Songkran. This year it was the turn of “Kirini Thewi”. She is dressed in emerald green with emerald ornaments. On one of her ears she has a Magnolia flower. She is riding an elephant with an elephant hook in her right hand and a gun in her left.

A prophecy is also linked to whose turn it is to be Nang Songkran.  This year Thailand will be faced with plague and people will die because of disasters and mishaps. Subordinates will listen to their superiors. Product prices will be expensive and the country remains fertile. Wildlife will be endangered. Widows will have fortune. Troops will have victory over their enemies. You can interpret that in any way you like. But, this year it doesn’t look too good.

Lining the streets were several thousand local people. Many of them were armed with water pistols but quite a few also had small bottles of scented water. They would then shake this bottle at every Buddha image that passed them. For those who didn’t have this bottle, they would respectively splash water over the image. Once the parade was over, some continued with the water fights while others went with their families to pay respect to their elders.

Other traditional events that take place during Songkran include, paying respect to dead ancestors at the temple, building sand pagodas and also washing the hands and feet of the monks. The days this happens will vary as it is up to each temple. For my local temple they are doing this on Sunday afternoon. I will be going there to take pictures. You can follow me live on Twitter @RichardBarrow. I will then write about it here when I get back. Meanwhile I will be heading down to Bangsaen tomorrow where they will be having their Songkran Festival. It isn’t over yet!

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