Songkran is Thailand’s New Year, also known as, Thailand Water Festival, a holiday of great significance here and celebrated each year from April 13 – 15. Lucky us, we arrived early enough for our cruise that we could have a peek at the festivities.
Thailand Water Festival
Water is sprinkled on family members and elders for good fortune during this holiday. In recent years it has gone beyond sprinkling to outright water fun and games with certain areas of the city drawing thousands armed with water guns, soakers, buckets and spray equipment ready to soak one and all.
Street vendors sell every kind of water spray toy and equipment imaginable. Bangkok police, however, have issued warning in the media that those selling high pressure water guns could be jailed for up to five years and be fined up to 500,000 baht, the Thai currency.
|Songkran Water guns are everywhere|
The holiday has its basis though in visits to temples and family time. Many Thais in Bangkok close up their mom-and-pop businesses and return to their hometown villages to celebrate with family. Which has eased both pedestrian and vehicle traffic immensely since our first couple of days here. Many who stay in the city make it a point to visit temples – those of the Buddhist religion participate in merit-making ceremonies and visiting temples is one sure way of making merit.
We weren’t out to make merit, we were simply headed to the grocery store down the road to buy a bottle of wine, when we decided to stop in the temple across the street on Tuesday morning.
We’d no more than arrived when a kindly Buddhist monk approached, welcoming us, and invited us to participate in Bathing the Buddha image – one of the merit-making ceremonies that takes place on this second day of the holiday.
We each filled a gold bowl with water from the large tub and poured a bit on each of the Buddha images pictured above. We were symbolically washing away the misfortunes of our past year.
Our host then took us to the large temple where monks gather three times each day to pray. He told us that he knew of Washington State (many here don’t) because he had lived for a time outside Hollywood, California. He currently has a girlfriend living in Boston. After I took this photo, he offered to take our photo. He said that way we could remember our visit. . .
He didn’t understand we didn’t need a photo to make this visit an unforgettable one!
Songkran Quick Facts:
* Thailand’s Tourism Council estimates that 470,000 tourists will visit between April 11 – 15
* More than 150 charter flights from Shanghai will bring 26,000 tourists for the holiday.
* Silom and Khao San Road are the ‘wettest’ places to celebrate the water festival in Bangkok.
* The Bangkok post reported that by Tuesday more than 60 had been killed in roadway accidents; 40% of which involved drunk driving and/or motorcycles.
Linking up (we hope!) this week with:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox
Our World Tuesday
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening