I spent most of my Songkran holidays enjoying the more traditional side of this new year festival. Yesterday I visited my local temple to take some pictures of two Songkran activities. The first one was Song Nam Phra where people poured water on the hands of monks. I told you about this one yesterday. The second event was Chedi Sai, the building of Sand Pagodas.
These two events happen at most temples around Thailand during Songkran. The date does vary. Last year my local temple held it during the middle of the Songkran water fights. It was like an oasis in the middle of a war zone. In the surrounding area, roaming pickup trucks, packed with people armed to the teeth, were patrolling the streets looking for people to squirt with their guns. However, in the temple grounds, families were taking part in a more traditional part of Songkran.
This tradition apparently started as a way for local people to make merit. It was reckoned that over the course of a year, a lot of sand would accidently be taken away from the temple on the bottom of people’s shoes. So, once a year, local lay people would be invited to bring back some sand and build a stupa. Well, these days things are a bit more organized. When I visited this temple the other day a truck was just delivering the sand and the monks were busy making large piles for each team.
There was a good atmosphere at the temple yesterday. There was a lot of other things going on as well and plenty of food stalls to keep people fed. There were a lot of families there. Each family was working on their own stupa. The shape and sizes did vary quite a bit and also the decorations put on them. But most of them had little flags and sticks with money attached to them