Songkran:

The Value Behind Thai New Year and Water Festival

Songkran: The Value Behind Thai New Year and Water Festival

Most people may know only about the water fights that come along with the annual Songkran Festival, and perhaps a little bit about the traditions of the Thai New Year, but let’s find out a bit more!

Water plays a strong role in Thai culture. It not only symbolizes fertility and refreshment, but also prosperity and purification. Since water weaves its way through almost every part of Thailand, Thai people have been using water for travel, agriculture, and incorporating in some forms of artwork for centuries, Songkran is also no exception.

The reason that Thai people established Songkran as the Thai New Year is because April is the month after the harvesting season when the farmers would finally have their long resting period. They could celebration and hold festivals during this long vacation, as well as also make merit, giving food to the monks, going to temples, and doing fun activities with the family. They usually gathered with all the extended family, so it was the best time to have a celebration to cherish such prosperities of life and community.

Before the day of celebration, people would clean their homes and prepare new clothes as well as food and desserts for monks and neighbors. After distributing all the food, then it’s time for  “Song nham pra” and “Rod nham dam hua phoo yai”, both events that used water to slowly pour on the Buddha statue and the hands of the elders in the family, respectively. The belief behind these events was to cleanse all the illness and chase away sadness. Another exciting event for teenagers in the later days of Songkran is the water splashing. The meaning behind this water fight was to ask “Paya nak” for the rain during the summer, and also it was the only time that boys and girls could be close to one another without breaking the rules.

So, you see, there is quite a bit more to Songkran than just water fights!  If you ever have a chance to see how the locals do it, you will fall in love with some of these traditions!

References:

  1. The question 108 magazine
  2. Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University [2014], Conversation board: An Importance of Songkran’s Day, https://www.stou.ac.th/forum/page/Answer.aspx?idindex=158486&idindex=158486
  3. Suksab J. [2014], Bureau of Personnel Administration Development and Legal Affairs: And the importance of Songkran Festival Culture and The Family’s Day,  http://personnel.obec.go.th/personnel/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=621:q–q-&catid=13:2011-08-11-05-13-55
  4. Panatang A. [2010], GotoKnow: An Importance and The Value of Songkran’s Day, https://www.gotoknow.org/posts/351300

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