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Celebrations of Traditional Thai New Year 2014

April 10, 2014 Destination Thailand No Comments Email Email

Many places in Thailand are starting to celebrate the Songkran Festival, the traditional Thai New Year, with unique rituals and festivities.
Songkran is a time when Thais splash water over friends and other people to give them a New Year blessing. It is regarded as the country’s merriest festival and it charms and delights visitors.

Although this festival of entertaining and socializing covers one week or more in some rural areas, the highlight of the festival is between 13 and 15 April. In some areas, celebrations of Songkran 2014 began on 5 April and will continue until 20 April, depending on the local culture and traditions.

The festival is significant, as it reinforces the important bonds of unity between families and communities that bring the Thai people together. It is not just about splashing water on each other, but about the traditions of hospitality, love, and relationship in Thai families.

On this occasion, family members living far from their hometowns for work return to their families for reunion. Local temples are central to the Songkran festivities. During this period, people perform a religious ceremony in memory of their ancestors. Many of them go to the temple and heap up sand into mounds in temple compounds, as they believe that bringing sand to a temple is considered a great merit.

Other activities include a thorough house cleaning, sprinkling of Buddha images with scented water, merit-making ceremonies, the release of caged birds and fish, pilgrimages to holy shrines, parades, dancing, and traditional Thai games.

Another important traditional practice on this occasion is that young people pour lustral water onto the palms of their elders as a gesture of respect and present them with gifts. In return, the elders give their blessings to them.

The water throwing, so often associated with Songkran, is normally enjoyed by young people and children, though people of all ages tend to join the fun at some point. It is advised that water used to splash on others should be clean or mixed only with traditional fragrances. Songkran celebrants have been urged to avoid throwing water aggressively or using high-pressure water guns or hoses.

Several government agencies are joining hands in launching a campaign to encourage Songkran celebrants to be aware of acceptable conduct and not to consume alcohol at festive events. The Ministry of Interior is also stepping up a campaign on road safety between 11 and 17 April. Stricter measures will be enforced to reduce road accidents during this festive season. For instance, motorcyclists are required to wear crash helmets and motorists and passengers to wear safety belts. They must carry with them driving licenses and may not drive beyond speed limits. Emphasis is also placed on controls on drunk-driving and alcohol consumption.

All these measures are aimed at ensuring that people will celebrate the traditional Thai New Year with safety and happiness throughout the country.

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