Thailand is a land of nature and adventure fused seamlessly together. A visitor to Thailand will always look forward to visiting its beaches and lush, forested mountains. However, this destination is also found charming and intriguing through its cultural aspects. Witnessing Thailand’s cultural essence is a colorful and enticing experience. The Thai Songkran Festival would be the perfect time to experience what cultural Thailand is like. Summertime in Thailand bears witness to this grand festival which is quite popular among locals and a sensory treat for visitors experiencing it. Even though there are several other traditional festivals in Thailand, nothing compares to how Songkran is celebrated nationally. There is something mesmerizing about the extravagant scale, fun factor, and extensiveness of the festival. Here are a few of the highlights of the Thai Songkran New Year to give you a better idea of what this fascinating festival is about.
Why is the Thai Songkran Festival celebrated?
Thailand celebrates its New Year with the Songkran Festival. For the Thai people, the celebration has been a tradition since its early days. It is a national holiday and people all around the country celebrate it in an extravagant way. Originally derived from Sanskrit, Songkran means transition and is considered by the locals as a time for a change or a new start. The festival used to commemorate the official arrival of the New Year, but Thailand has adopted the western calendar since 1888 and celebrates the New Year on the first of January. However, Songkran festival is still regarded as the traditional Thai New Year, which is celebrated extravagantly. The legends behind how the festival originated have strong roots in Hindu mythology. It is also known as Buddhist New Year. The locals accept and share goodwill and gratitude, and water plays a big role during the festivities. Thailand celebrates the New Year according to its traditional way of living, which emphasizes respect for elders, respect for society, and respect for religion. Over the course of the week, Thai people participate in merit-making, parades, pageants, and the world’s largest water festival.
When is it celebrated in 2023?
The Songkran festival is celebrated based on the astronomical position of the sun in various zodiacs. One of the best Thailand festivals and events, Songkran, is celebrated when the sun passes from Pisces to Aries. This New year is celebrated in accordance with the solar calendar and is an annual festival. Three days are dedicated to the celebration, with each day having its own significance. Maha Songkran occurs on the first day of Songkran when the shift happens. The second day is called Wan Nao which signifies the transitional phase from the old year to the new year. The last day reflects on new beginnings and is called Thaloeng Sok. However, the celebration carries on for a week or longer in some parts of Thailand. In the year 2023, the Thai Songkran New Year Festival will take place from 13 April till 15 April. However, the usual New Year in Thailand will also be celebrated on 1st January.
What is the celebration like?
As part of the celebration, Thai people clean their homes to bring positivity into their living spaces. People visit temples and offer their prayers with a ritual called Song Nam Phra where they pour scented water on Buddha’s idol or images. Locals pay respect to elders, seek their blessings, and cleanse their karma by engaging in small good deeds, such as releasing fish into ponds, cooking for monks, and releasing birds into the air, which is believed to bring them good luck.
Thailand Songkran Festival is also about adorning the streets and alleyways with beautiful floral festoons and gorgeous garlands. In Bangkok, there are street parades along Khao San Road, where flower-draped beautiful dioramas adorn the streets. During this Thai festival, the vibrant atmosphere and festive flair are amazing to enjoy.
Songkran Water Festival
Heads up to all Thailand visitors who plan to travel during the Thai Songkran New Year Festival. Don’t be surprised if you end up soaked. During Thai Songkran New Year, the whole country will join in on water fights. The Thai New Year Water Festival usually happens on the first day of the Songkran festival, and it is considered the world’s largest water festival. In fact, the Thai Songkran New Year Festival is also known as the Water Splashing Festival of Thailand. Since the water element represents purification of the soul, scented water used to be sprinkled on others to ward off negativity in ancient traditions.
Thai temples still practice this ritual, but for the locals, it has evolved into a nationwide water fight that makes the festival enjoyable and exciting. The water festival is perhaps the most exciting event that locals and visitors love to partake in. Head to Chiang Mai where the water festival is a grand adventure in itself to witness. Thailand has a hot summer, so during the festival, water splashing and water fights offer a refreshing experience to locals and tourists alike. If you are in Thailand during Songkran New Year Festival, be mindful of your valuables and gadgets while out in public as the water splashing in the area could ruin them. There will be water everywhere and you will get drenched no matter how much you try to avoid it.
The food scene at Songkran Festival
Lastly, how can you forget to check out the Thai food scene while you are in Thailand? In addition, Thai food is at its finest during festival times. This is an excellent time to go on a food tasting tour and sample some delicious traditional Thai dishes like Mango Sticky Rice, Pad Thai, and Tom Yum Goong.
Thailand is a dynamic destination that hosts a range of festivals. It is also one of the best Asian countries to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve. So, plan your holiday wisely and make the most of your time.