Songkran is internationally famous for the huge water fights on the streets and smearing each other with powder, but what is the real history behind this famous holiday?
A brief History of Songkran
The word Songkran passage of the sun from one sign of the Zodiac to another and is derived from Sanskrit language. This is when the sun enters the sign of Aries the Ram – known as the Vernal Equinox.
The date was originally set by astrological calculations, but it is now fixed on 13 April. The festival may be extended if some of the celebrations fall over a weekend. In Thailand, Songkran was the official New Year until 1888, when it was switched to a fixed date of 1 April. It wasn’t until 1940, that this date was then shifted to 1 January.
The most famous aspect of the Songkran celebrations is the throwing of water. The custom originates from the way that blessed water was used to clean images of Buddha to represent cleansing of the past year and clearing the way for good fortune and paying respect. It also doesn’t hurt that April is the hottest part of the year in Thailand, so being soaked is a refreshing escape from the heat and humidity.
In modern times all over Thailand, children and adults alike line the streets and soak each other in a huge, fun water fight with water guns, buckets and anything else. You may also get covered in chalk, a custom originating from the chalk used by monks to mark blessings.
It’s a fun and vibrant time to be in the kingdom – just don’t expect to stay dry!