The Songkran festival is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year’s Dat. It is celebrated from 13 to 15 April. It coincides with the New Year of many calendars of South and Southeast Asian countries. It is believed to have been adapted from the Sankranti Hindu festival. It is now observed nationwide even in the far south.
However, the most famous Songkran celebrations are still in the northern city of Chiang Mai, where it lasts days and even longer. It has also become a party for foreigners and an additional reason for tourists to visit Thailand. The most obvious celebration of Songkran is the throwing of water to other people. Thai roam the streets with containers of water or water guns. In addition, many Thai will have small bowls of cheap beige colored talc and mixed with water which is then smeared on the faces and bodies of random passersby as a blessing for the new year. City officials close off many sections of the street for the festival.
Besides the throwing of water, people celebrate Songkran by going to a wat (Buddhist monastery) to pray and give food to monks. They also cleanse Buddha images in the household shrines as well as Buddha images at monasteries by gently pouring water mixed with a Thai fragrance over them. It is believed that doing this will bring good luck and prosperity in the New Year. In many cities, such as Chiang Mai, the Buddha images from all of the city’s important monasteries are paraded through the streets so that people can toss water at them, ritually ‘bathing’ the images as they pass by.
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