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Holidays & Festivals in Thailand Page 4

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Public Holidays / Festivals Page 4
Public Holidays / Festivals Page 4

Songkran Festival.

The Thai New Year  is celebrated every year from April 13 to April 15.The date of the festival was originally set by astrological calculation, but it is now fixed. If these days fall on a weekend, the missed days off are taken on the weekdays immediately following. If they fall in the middle of the week, many Thai’s take off from the previous Friday until the following Monday. Songkran falls in the hottest time of the year in Thailand, at the end of the dry  season. Until 1888 the Thai New Year was the beginning of the year thereafter 1st April was used until 1940.The most obvious celebration of Songkran is the throwing of water. People roam the streets with containers of water or water guns, or post themselves at the side of roads with a garden hose and drench one another and other people passing. This, however, was not always the main activity of this festival. Songkran was traditionally a time to visit and pay  respects to elders, including family members, friends and neighbours.

Besides the throwing of  water, people celebrating Songkran may also go to a wat ( Buddhist monastery ) to pray and give food to monks. They may also cleanse Buddha images from household shrines as well as Buddha images at monasteries by gently pouring water mixed with a Thai fragrance  over them. It is believed that doing this will bring good luck and prosperity for the New Year. In many cities, such as Chiang Mai, the Buddha images from all of the city's important monasteries are paraded through the streets so that people can toss water at them, ritually bathing the images, as they pass by on ornately decorated floats. In northern Thailand, people may carry handfuls of sand to their neighbourhood monastery in order to recompense the dirt that they have carried away on their feet during the rest of the year. The sand is then sculptured into stupa shaped piles and decorated with colourful flags.

The use of chalk is also very common having originated in the chalk used by monks to mark blessings.The throwing of water originated as a way to pay respect to people, by capturing the water after it had been poured over the Buddha's for cleansing and then using this "blessed" water to give good fortune to elders and family by gently pouring it on the shoulder. Among young people the holiday evolved to include dousing strangers with water to relieve the heat, since April is the hottest month in Thailand (temperatures can rise to over 100°F or 40°C on some days). This has further evolved into water fights and splashing water over people riding in vehicles.


Royal Thai Consulate in Hull, England