Songkran chills summer sizzles
BANGKOK, 20 March 2012: As temperatures soar to the mid-30s, it is a reminder that the fun-filled nationwide Songkran Festival is just around the corner with an opportunity to chill out literally.
This year, the official holidays runs from 13 to 15 April, which falls on a weekend, but the festival holiday will get under way in some places as early as 9 April and continue to 24 April, depending on the location in the country.
During the annual festival, children and adults throw water at each other from sunrise to sunset. The activity looks like a war zone, as truck loads of revelers roam the streets armed with water pistols and even fire hoses to wash down their neighbours. These tit for tat battle are fun, if you are dressed for the occasion and need a bucket of ice cold water thrown over you to cool down in the sizzling summer heat.
Songkran is the traditional new year celebration when Thai people head home to spend time with their families to anoint elders with a tiny drop of blessed water in an act of respect.
They will also bathe Buddha images and attend ceremonies at temples. Inside the temple cloisters the atmosphere is quiet and the sprinkling of water has a significance that goes back centuries.
In decades gone past most of the festivities were focused on the temple and surrounding grounds. Children would throw water at each other during the day and in the evening temple fairs would open selling snacks and offering fun fair rides.
From the safety of the temple grounds the water throwing routine in this annual holiday has expanded to include all the roads and byways and anyone walking or riding a motor cycle is a target for a generous soaking.
Northern destinations are the most popular with Songkran holiday makers. Chiang Mai is famous for its Songkran festivities, while in Bangkok Wat Po is the centre for a traditional celebration with respectful sprinkling of blessed water and other religious ceremonies. Khao San road is probably the most boisterous venue to celebrate the event where tourists and local mingles to see who can get survive the soaking that eventually over flows the drains and floods the street.
Pattaya celebrates the festival one week after the rest of the country and that is a scene to behold such is the enthusiasm of the water brigade.
Tourism Authority of Thailand gathers all the festival options and information at http://songkran.tourismthailand.org where you can also find related information on the history of the festival itself.