Not satisfied with just one day of Holi? Head down to Thailand for their beautiful festival of spiritual cleansing.
Songkran is the totally epic way that Thailand ushers in its New Year. Held every year from April 13 to 15, the festival is known to give a very unconventional twist to usually mundane purification rituals. The people celebrate this stunning festival that marks the end of another year, by dousing their loved ones with water. This tradition is said to wash away all sins and misfortunes of the past year and grant you a fresh beginning.
The festival has its roots in Buddhist traditions, as pouring water on Buddha idols is considered a sacred ritual. Though this year, the management has decided to control the magnitude of the festival due the severe drought the country is facing, Songkran is still going to be the biggest celebration in all of Thailand!
The festival in hot water
The festival has primarily been known for its mammoth water parties where people drench each other in water, as is the ritual to wash away bad luck and misfortunes of last year and start anew. But this practice has received a lot of flak over the past few years as Thailand is suffering one of its worst droughts in 20 years. Governments all over have been calling for measures to curb the nonsensical water wastage that takes place every year. This year, Bangkok has decided to reign in the water usage by imposing strict regulations and encouraging people to spend some ‘dry quality time with their families’. Though its highly unlikely that the waterworks will completely stop this year as we are pretty certain you will surely catch a water party or two around the city. We certainly hope the measures taken to avoid the loss of water are implemented much more strictly in the near future.
Because Songkran is about so much more than water fights. It is about the rich culture and heritage that it represents and the importance it holds in the life of the people there. Though it is celebrated all over the country, the best place to experience an authentic Songkran would be in the ancient city of Chiang Mai, which is considered the mecca of authentic Songkran celebrations.
Locals who have moved to other cities specially make their way back to to this old city to celebrate the festival among family and friends as it is the biggest public holiday in Thailand. The festival is the biggest representation of the revival of old traditions and the reunion of all loved ones. Songkran holds an intimate place in the heart of the people of Thai.
A rare glimpse into Thai culture
The water fights are not the only things that make Songkran the beautiful affair that it is. Every street corner and lane is filled with people reveling and making the best of the break it allows. The best way to enjoy Thailand culture in all its glory would be to just take a walk through the colourful streets during these three days and you will glimpse a side of it that deserves much more attention. Attend this festival to witness the intricate parades with massive floats and dance with happy people in brilliant costumes. Not to mention the food! Also famous are the unmissable painted elephants that are seen casually strolling around town, occasionally dousing passer-bys with a trunk load of water.
The city usually shuts down completely for all the people to completely concentrate on the celebrations, and food is surely one of them. The locals whip up some of the craziest dishes that sample the explosive Thai culture expertly on a plate. The best place to try the cuisine would be at food stalls that one can find on almost every street, as none supply a taste as authentic as them! And if you have any trouble deciding what and where to start with, you can easily consult the locals, who are known for their genuinely helpful nature and easy smiles!
Not all fun and games
Songkran is known for a little more than its cultural nature. Every year, the death toll rises at an alarming rate during the Songkran week. Known as the ‘7 days of death’, officials report an scary hike in road accidents and such during this time. Thailand is well-known to have some of the most dangerous roads in the world, as last year alone they claimed 364 lives and injured 3,559 people, as reported by Road Safety. This worryingly high number reflects most deaths in almost 9 nine years and here’s hoping the revellers play it much safer, this year.