Its nearly here……. no not a Day’s Diving, we have that here everyday at Scuba Cat Diving…….
What is it?
April 13th is the traditional Thai New Year’s Day, which is celebrated throughout the country by all Thai people, whether young or old, of all walks of life including the Thai Royal Family. April is also the time when farmers are free from their normal farming duties allowing them the time needed to take part in the annual tradition, which involves the deeply important task of paying respect to their ancestors and elders.
The tradition was adopted from India, the ancient Brahmins, who believed that the sun finished its orbit round the earth on April 13 and re-entered Aries.
The significance of Water
Water is traditionally used during the Songkran festival, to gently wash the hands of elders and monks and bathe Buddha images.
Soft chalk power called “Din Saw Phong” is traditionally applied on the face or body. To touch others without their permission is considered an ill manner by civilised Thais. Therefore you should not offer unrequested help with this.
Proper bathing is divided into two categories:
- Bathing of elders (according to tradition ago 60+) as a tribute of respect and for blessings. Youngsters pour scented water onto the hands of the elders. In return the elders will grant their best wishes upon them.
- Traditionally, upon the bathing ritual, elders are given toilet items: clothes, “Pha-nung” (loin cloth), handkerchiefs, towels, soap, perfumes and powder.
- Bathing for peers or juniors. Permission should be asked for before gently pouring the scented water over their shoulder and down their back whilst giving a blessing for the New Year. However close friends, can enjoy splashing water on each other as they wish still with appropriate manners and moral.
The water used for bathing and splashing is regarded as sacred. It must be clean water or scented water with floral pedals, and NOT dirty water or ice.
The highest form of respect is made by bowing with pressed palms, arms and forehead touching the floor in front of the person or the image paying respect to.
To bathe the Buddha image or any idol, it is appropriate to pour the scented water on other parts of the Buddha image but not the head.
If you are in Patong, Phuket for Songkran:
- The streets become crazy! Thai’s arm themselves with water guns, hoses and buckets to soak anyone and everyone they see. YOU WILL GET WET if you go onto the streets and perhaps be smeared with white powder. Keep your temper and smile. Unlikely as it seems this is part of the ancient tradition of paying respect to elders.
- White tops will be pretty revealing when wet. Do you really want to become a participant in a Wet T-shirt competition, wear dark tops if you don’t want the unrequested attention.
- Remember Thai’s and Tourists alike will consume lots of alcohol at this time. The streets will be crowded, you will get soaked and painted with white powder. Remember it is one big party atmosphere, everyone just wants to have fun so take it all in good spirit.
- Protect your cameras and mobile phones; electronics don’t work after they get wet! If you want to get photos of this festival then make sure you have waterproof protection for this or buy a camera that is waterproof. Don’t don’t wear your best clothes. Leave all-important documents in the hotel safe.
- IF YOU DON’T WANT TO GET WET STAY INSIDE YOUR HOTEL ROOMS! Movies, room service food, snacks and a good book will keep you entertained.
- Jungcelon and Central Festival will all be open all through Songkran. You WILL get wet on the way there and back. Think about getting a taxi if you don’t want to get wet, you will be an easy target in a tuk-tuk.
- If you hire a car during Songkran don’t expect to keep it clean: it is will get white clay and water smears on it . Make sure that you have topped up your windscreen wipers with plenty of water. Some people may even try to open your car doors, unless you want to get wet keep them locked and windows closed.
- If you hire a scooter take great care, bike accidents soar during the festival period.
There is so much more to the Songkran festival than just water fights. Make sure you take the time to see the more traditional side during your stay with us in Phuket.