Turn back time for a look at Thailand’s famous Songkran Festival in years past.
Today, Songkran – the Thai New Year – is a water war. Wild and crazy Thai teenagers, grown-up “teenagers”, excited tourists, children and people of all ages roam the street with water canons, giant buckets full of ice, icy-hot paste and cold beers. But as the most important holiday of the year, Songkran’s history stretches back deep into the past.
Traditionally the Songkran Festival consists of 3 days, usually starting on the 13th of April:
Day 1: Maha Songkran Day
As Songkran kicks off, it’s time to make your home look sparkling fresh for the new year. Maha Sonkgran is a day of spring cleaning.
Day 2: Nao Day
Nao Day is New Year’s Eve. Families prepare food for the next day’s rituals. Traditionally, this is also a day for Thai Buddhists to build chedis (pagodas) out of sand at their local temple.
Day 3: Taloeng Sok Day
This is New Year’s Day – the time for the most important rituals and celebrations. Foods prepared the day before are brought to the temple or given to monks during their early morning alms rounds. Giving food to the monks is a way to “make merit” or provide blessings and good karma to your ancestors.
The heart and soul of the Songkran Festival, Taloeng Sok is often the day when Thais bathe their elders’ hands with floral-scented water and ask forgiveness for any rudeness or transgressions against them in the previous year. Your elders respond in kind with blessings for happiness in the year to come. Taloeng Sok Day is also the traditional day for splashing about and having fun.
The Many Faces of Songkran
Every region though has its own twists on the traditions. Chiang Mai possesses perhaps the most famous Songkran celebrations in the country. And of course, Songkran has changed a lot over time with the water wars spreading across several days and getting bigger and bigger over the last few decades. For a view of how Songkran used to look, gaze at the collection of photos below. Sometimes, apart from clothes and buildings, the photos could have been taken today.
Photo Source: Chiang Rai Focus
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