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Songkran is Thailand's annual New Year festival, and commonly known as Thailand's water festival. Traditional Thai New Year takes place April 13th-15th, but in reality the whole week is taken over by a mass celebration and a momentous water fight. Wild scenes of exuberance can be seen throughout the Kingdom with music, dancing, and people drenched from head to toe. Water guns, hose pipes, buckets, in fact, anything you can get your hands on can be used to splash people, and one thing is for certain: you will get wet!
Although the focus of Songkran has shifted towards merriment and light-hearted activities, its celebrations are steeped in religious and spiritual rituals -- many of which survive in different forms during the modern festivities. For the most part, Thai locals spend a portion of Songkran visiting Buddhist monasteries to pray and offer food or other gifts to Buddhist monks. In some regions of the country, people offer further reverence by constructing decorative mounds of sand inside of the temples, called “stupas.” Another heavily practiced ritual of Songkran is to thoroughly clean one’s home as the festivities approach, meant to ensure a fresh start to the New Year. Finally, long known as a festival of unity, Songkran still places much emphasis on the importance of family. Indeed, Thai individuals who have moved away from their families customarily return to their home during the celebrations to spend time with their close family and elders.
Yet, the most important of the ancient traditions of Songkran is the symbolic presence of water. In Thai culture, water is believed to purify the spirit, both cleansing the body of bad luck as well as blessing it with good fortune. During Songkran, locals would pour water over Buddha statues for cleansing purposes, then collect this water and re-use it to bless village elders and family members by sprinkling it onto their shoulders. Nowadays, however, this tradition of pouring water on others has been taken to the extreme in the form of Songkran’s world-famous water festival.
This video is sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
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