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Songkran 2023: What to Expect for Thai New Year

Songkran is the Thai New Year's national holiday. Songkran is on 13 April every year, but the holiday period extends from 14 to 15 April. It is the Thai New Year, is the most important festival in Thailand. With celebrations lasting up to a week, Thai New Year marks the end of the dry season with religious ceremonies and water fights, which are a trademark of the festival.

What is Songkran Festival?

The word Songkran means 'to move' or 'movement' in Thai. Songkran Festival is determined according to the movement of the sun from one zodiac position (Pisces) to a new one (Aries). Songkran is also known as the Water Splashing Festival, which is celebrated to mark the New Year in Thailand.

As a symbol of renewal in Buddhism, water is splashed on statues of Buddha for good luck, and younger generations bathe the hands of the elderly to receive their blessing in return. Finally, people gather in the streets to join in huge "water fights" — fun and celebratory mutual splashing.

How to Celebrate Songkran Festival

There are many traditional activities held during Songkran Festival, including the famous water splashing, cleaning houses and Buddha statues, merit-making in temples, as well as exciting street and beach Songkran parties.

1. Water Splashing

Water fights are an important part of the New Year celebrations. April is the hottest time of year in Thailand and splashing each other with water is an excellent way to cool down. Streets are closed to traffic and used as arenas: huge crowds of people gather to "fight" with water using pipes, buckets, and water guns. It's an activity that the younger generations love: foreigners are more than welcome to join in!

2. Cleaning

Like at Chinese New Year, Thai people clean their houses, schools, temples, offices, and other public places to welcome in the New Year with a fresh and clean environment. Merit-making: Most Thai people like to give gifts of food to monks in the temples and worship their ancestors during the Songkran Festival. The monks give them words of wisdom after receiving the food gifts.

3. Merit Making

Merit making is an important part of Songkran Festival. Thai people go to temples and offer food and clothing to the monks and listen to their Buddhist preaching. Offerings to the monks include preserved food, fruits, cooked dishes, and new robes for the monks.

4. Releashing Birds and Fish

Releasing birds and fish back to their natural habitats: Thai people see this practice of giving freedom to living creatures as part of their Buddhist belief that releasing animals to freedom returns back good fortune.

5. Folk Performances and Games

Folk performances and games are organized for enjoyment during Songkran. There are Thai beauty pageant competitions displaying traditional Thai dress and street parades. Other interesting activities during Songkran Festival include street food vendors, flag ceremonies, Thai dances, and boat races.

6. Building Sand Pagodas

Building sand pagodas on temple grounds involves Thai people bringing some sand to temples during the Songkran Festival. The sand can be used to build sand pagodas or repair temples. Helping with temple maintenance and helping monks in general is regarded as good practice during Songkran Festival.

Songkran in Pattaya

Known as the party city of Thailand, Pattaya has the longest festival celebrations in Thailand. Water splashing "fights" begin from the morning of 13 April on every beach road in Pattaya. Live music stages and foam machines are set up to attract crowds to join in the great party. Moving pick-up trucks are used as mobile stages on the road with loud music playing all day. All tourists and locals enjoy Songkran's happiness.

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