Here comes the joy of April for every Thai people and lovely foreign visitors who is waiting for this biggest greatest 2-weeks long event called "Songkran" festival (as know as "Thai New Year" based on local astrological calendar). Involving 3-5 consecutive long public holidays (official date : April 13th-15th of every year) to cool down with water splash nationwide and a time for very traditional moment to spend with family / paying respect to the elders as a blessing to begin a new refreshing year.
A little bit talk about the history, the word "Songkran" originally came from Sanskrit language pronounced as "S-kran" which means "moving forward" or being implied as new dawn of the beginning of the year. Hence, Songkran festival is a very old tradition for Thai people similar to Chinese new year in the early of every year.
"MahaSongkran day" or "the great Songkran day" in ancient time is the first day of waxing moon which is around November or December to be counted as Thai New Year. However, it has been changed to April 13th during King Rama V (Chulalongkorn) hence becoming an official date which is mostly remembered by Thai people ever since.
"Songkran Goddess" in ancient time has been referred to the seven prophecies which is different in each year depends on the date of MahaSongkran day
Tungsatavee - Goddess of Conquering (Sunday)
Korakatavee - Goddess of Power (Monday)
Raksatavee - Goddess of Joy (Tuesday)
Montatavee - Goddess of Wisdom (Wednesday)
Kirineetavee - Goddess of Tradition (Thursday)
Kimitatavee - Goddess of Wealth (Friday)
Mahotortavee - Goddess of War (Saturday)
In 2016, it's believed that Montatavee is Songkran Goddess wearing bracelets with Sonchampa flower, jewelries, food, milk, butter, holding needle with right hand, holding staff with left hand and riding a donkey.
Here are things to do during Songkran festival:
Splash water - An icon of Songkran festival for fun and joyful moment. Splashing water usually starts on April 13th (in some place like "Khaosan road" may start since April 12th night). The water can be lightly mixed with perfume powder as proper.
Paying respect to the elders - It's a belief to bring 1 set of clothes/towel with incense and flower to be given to the elder as a gratitude. The younger ones will slowly pour the water mixed slightly with perfume powder on the elder's hands or even over their shoulder (that's the reason why clothes & towels are given earlier). Then the elder will give a blessing for a fresh start of the new year.
Paying respect to the lord of Buddha - Many temples will bring Buddha statue for people who wants to pay respect by pouring water on the statue as a blessing for the new year
Cats parade - Another belief is to worship the gods with cats parade will bring along the rain for agriculture throughout the year. Nowadays, this tradition still continue in some provinces to bring fun and joy with water splashing along the way.
Building sand castles - On any day during Songkran festival, people usually bring sands into the temple to build up sand castles for fun. It's also a sharing to the community as the sands will normally be used to repair the road for nearby community after the festival.
Chao Sua - Rice with Pork Floss
So called "Rice of Wealth" snack for a great year
Last but not least, we have highlighted key areas of Songkran events around the country in year 2016 below for you to check them out.
[Bangkok province] Songkran Festival 2016 @ Central World | April 13th - 15th | Just in front of Central World which can be walked from Chidlom BTS station
[Bangkok province] Songkran 2016 at Khaosan road | April 12th - 15th | All along Khaosan road which you may need take taxi and drop off at Rajadamnern road then walk inside
[Chiangmai province] Songkran 2016 | April 13th - 15th | Thapae gate
[Pattaya area] Songkran Wanlai 2016 | April 18th - 20th | Chai Mongkol temple and along beach road
[Nongkhai province] MahaSongkran in the east 2016 | April 12th - 16th | Po Chai temple
[Samui island] COCO Songkran 2016 | April 13th - 14th | Along Chaweng beach road and Bo Pud community road
[Songkla province] Midnight Songkran 2016 | April 13th - 15th | Odien crossroad, Sanehanusorn road, Nipanuthit 3 road and Mahad Mungklaram temple