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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Songkran Festival 13th-15th April 2011 - Thai New Year

The Songkran Festival is the biggest festival in Thailand. Taking it’s name from the Sanskrit word, “Samkranti”, Songkran is Thailand’s New Year. The Thai people enjoy the festival as a National Holiday.

The Songkran Festival falls between 13 – 15 April each year. Historically, the dates of Songkran were determined by astrological calculations. However, now the dates have been fixed.

The festival is in April, in accordance with the New Year Calendar’s, that are followed in South and South-East Asia.

Originally, The Songkran Festival was only celebrated in the Northern Provinces of Thailand. It is thought that this was due to the influence of Burmese people who brought their customs into Thailand. The Burmese people had adopted the Songkran Festival from an Indian Festival.

From the mid-20th century onwards the Songkran Festival went national across Thailand. Songkran is now celebrated all over the kingdom - even in the very far South.

However, the biggest Songkran festivities can still be found in the Northern Province of Chiang Mai. Songkran there lasts for 6 days in total; it is not unusual for it to extend past the 6 days.

Songkran Traditions

Also known as, “The Water Festival” the most obvious tradition is the throwing of water. People fill the streets armed with containers of water and water guns – ready to throw the water at each other.

You will also see many people lining the streets waiting with water hoses and buckets to drench passer bys.

Traditionally, Songkran is a time to pay respects to your elders in your family and in your community. In accordance with this, many Thai’s go to visit their local Wat to pray and to give food to the monks.

They also cleanse the Buddha images they keep in their home shrines and also images found at the Wat. They do so by very gently pouring water mixed with a special Thai fragrance over them. This is done to bring good luck and prosperity for the new year.

Songkran, is a time for cleansing and renewal. Many local people observe this by doing good deeds for other people.

Water Throwing

After the Buddha images had been cleansed the water was caught. The water was now “blessed” and was used to cleanse and to throw onto your elders. The act of throwing the water was intended to pass on good luck and good fortune.

In the modern day, water was thrown at strangers and peers as a way to relieve the heat. As April, is the hottest month in the year (reaching temperatures of 40c) the water can effectively cool people down.

Songkran & Tourists

Every year high numbers of tourists come to take part in the Songkran festivities. They are made very welcome by locals and are encouraged to take part in the fun.

It is also an excellent way for tourists to learn about Thai customs and to immerse themselves in the community.

Hire A Phuket Tour Guide For Songkran

If you will be in Phuket between 13th – 15th April 2011, you may like to take part in the Festival. Phuket Tour Guides, can pick you up in private transport from your hotel and take you to the heart of the festivities.

Your private tour guide will stay with you throughout the day ensuring you take in the culture. You will then be privately, transferred back to your hotel at the end of the day.

Contact Phuket Tour Guides

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