The rest of the world may not be aware that the water rituals on a grand scale over three consecutive days each year has long been a part of Thai culture, recognising that the wet season is imminent.
Despite Songkran being an eagerly awaited Festival, it is also the most dangerous time of the year on Thailand roads.
Most accidents were caused by drunk driving (34.09%), followed by speeding (32.93%). Out of the vehicles involved in accidents, 80.67% were motorcycles, 8.85% pickup trucks and 4.97% cars. Only 0.25% involved vans and 0.20% buses. 37.86% of accidents took place on highways and 64.49% on straight stretches of roads. Most accidents (30.23%) happened between 4pm and 8pm. Sources for these statistics are the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department; others sources may vary.
Songkran actually originated from Burma. In fact, there are also other countries practicing this festivity including Vietnam and Laos, but nowhere like Thailand. The word Songkran was derived from “Sankranti”, which means ‘to move or to change’. Celebrated on 13th April – 15th April, Songkran is the longest holiday in the country.
Downtown Hua Hin; saying dry is an impossibility Tuk-Tuks are not exempt Songkran is not only about fun and the party atmosphere with water ‘attacks’ an essential element found on the streets of Thailand no matter where you are. Although the ritual soaking is inevitable and trying to staying dry futile, the period also has associated religious activities and important family activities.
On the Beach at Ao Manao
On the eve of Songkran Day, i.e. on the 12th April, the people clean their house and burn all the refuse. This is a Spring Cleaning Day done as a duty in the belief that anything bad belonging to the old year will be unlucky to the owner if left and carried forward to the coming New Year. Early on the first day of Songkran, the 13th April, the people both young and old in their new clothing go to the Wat or monastery belonging to their village or district to offer food to the monks there.
A long table is erected in the compound of the Wat where monk’s alms bowls stand in a row on either side of the table. Into the alms bowls the gathering people put boiled rice and into the covers of the alms bowls, food, fruits and sweetmeats. In the afternoon of the same day there is bathing ceremony of the Buddha images and also of the abbot of the Wat. The bathing of images is done as ritualistic ceremony, but it is no other than a New Year’s purification. Younger people will also on this day or the succeeding days go to pay their respect to and ask blessings from their elders and respected persons.
They will pour scented water into the palms of the old people and present them with a towel and other bathing requisites. In the old days it was an actual bathing where the young people helped the old people to take a bath and to change their old clothing and put on the new clothes which the young people presented them as an act of respect to the aged on the occasion of the New Year. This year, the passing of HM King Rama IX, means that Songkram will be a much more sober occasion.
Perhaps a more sophisticated approach? Where to Join the Party To get amongst the party revelers in Hua Hin on the first day, the focus is on a procession which will wind from Soi 55 before moving slowly along Naresdamri Road then past the Hilton until returning to Petchakasem Road.
In Cha-Am a procession of floats and willing ‘victims’ commences at the northern end of the beach road then turns into Narathip Road. Both mobile parties get underway late morning on Wednesday April 13th.
The 2016 Songkran procession in Cha-Am.
A Springfield buggy ‘off course’ (Khun Bom) It’s up to you whether you join in the crowds of watersoaked revelers or chooses to stay away from these very wet Songkran ‘epicentres’! Songkran Safety Tips Songkran does have a few correlated risks – much like festive periods in your own country. There’s a sensible and less-sensible way to do just about anything in life. 1. Just like on New Year’s Eve and holiday periods in your home country, when lots of people celebrate… some of them drive drunk. Beware on roads (as a driver and a pedestrian). Alcohol sale times are strictly monitored throughout Songkran in efforts to keep the (very wet) roads safe. 2. If at all possible, avoid using a scooter or motorbike during the day/days of water-throwing.
Drinking aside, road safety can become an issue when those driving scooters or motorbikes get a face full of water. If you do have to scoot, always wear your helmet. The right clothing for Songkran? Official statements are released at Songkran urging women to consider their clothing choices at Songkran. Use common sense for this modest country with very strong sun, wear dark colours (not white!). So welcome to the 2016 Thai New Year; we hope it’s a safe one for you!