The Mon people of Samut Prakan traditionally celebrate Songkran a week later than the rest of the country. This year it was later than normal as it was held between 22nd and 24th April 2011. The celebrations started with a Miss Songkran Beauty Contest on Friday night. Then each night, along the waterfront, there was a food festival.
During the three days there was also an opportunity to watch a traditional Mon game called Saba. It is difficult to explain the rules other than to say that it is a kind of courtship game. In the past, there wasn’t many opportunities for young men and women to meet and this game was one way that they me could perhaps find a future bride.
For many people, the highlight of the Songkran Festival in Phra Pradaeng was to come out again for a water fight. Which is ideal for people who believe that only having three days between 13 and 15 April is just not enough. This year, if you travelled around Thailand it was possible to join in water fights continuously for 15 days.
For me the highlight was the Songkran Parade that took place on Sunday afternoon. Thousands of local people lined both sides of the road as at least ten colourfully decorated floats and marching bands passed by in the parade which took nearly one hour to go from the District Office on the waterfront to Wat Prodket. This year the parade was broadcast live on television.
The parade ended with the releasing of the fish and birds at Wat Prodket. This is a Mon tradition for making merit that was later adopted by the Thai people. They believe that by releasing these creatures back out into the wild that they are saving lives. In this picture the Samut Prakan Governor led other people, as well as Miss Songkran, who is wearing the yellow dress, in releasing the fish and birds.