Songkran is a national holiday in Thailand held to celebrate New Year. The origin of the word Songkran means astrological passage or transformation or change. The usual day of celebration of Songkran in Thailand is between April 13 and 15 each year. During this festival, many water activities are done. Hence, such a festival is also known as the water festival. Getting to know more about the Songkran festival is important especially since Songkran is near. Let us go through the facts and important details about Songkran.
What is the Songkran Festival?
As mentioned, the Songkran festival is also known as the water festival. However, the name Songkran actually comes from the Sanskrit word Sankranti which means transformation or change. It was a term borrowed from the Maka Sankranti which is a name of a Hindu harvest festival held in India every January to mark the start of the Spring season.
When is Songkran?
Traditionally, Songkran is held every April 13 of each year. This can extend from April 13 to 15. However,, the cabinet of the Thai government extended the festival to a total of 5-days celebrations to allow families to come back to their homes for the holidays and have enough time with their families. Songkran in Thailand will begin on Tuesday, 13 April, and ends on 15 April.
History of Songkran
The history of Songkran can be traced back to the festival traditions that originated from the prayers and blessings of Buddhist Monks. During the times of Ancient Thai, one of the traditions of people is to visit local monasteries and provide gifts to monks living there. Apart from that, a holy cleansing process is done by pouring scented water over monks. The people would then collect the poured water and then bring those back to their families and friends. These people will then rub each other of the water since they believe that the water is blessed. This is the main reason why the Songkran festival is also called the water festival.
New Year Traditions During Songkran
The celebration of the Songkran festival is very rich in symbolic traditions. People usually begin their mornings by merit-making which is an important practice in Buddhism. People also visit local temples and offer food to Buddhist monks, which is actually a tradition that originated back in ancient Thai. Water is also poured on Buddha states. This activity represents purification, washing sins away, and getting rid of bad luck. Since Songkran is a long holiday and since it is a holiday of unity, people usually go back home to their loved ones, especially those living in the cities. Citizens also pay respects to their ancestors.
During Songkran, many roads are closed to traffic to make way for parades and activities that involve water festivals such as water fights. All people, both young and old, participate in water fights by splashing water on each other. Another part of the tradition is a pageant called the Miss Songkran wherein the best contestant is crowned the winner.
Public Life During Songkran
Since Songkran is a national holiday in Thailand, government offices, private offices, and banks are closed for three days. This was changed however in when the government of Thailand extended the Songkran festival into a five-day period of celebration. During this time, many people take the day-offs as a good opportunity for them to go back to their families, especially those originally from the provinces. Traffic is not so much heavy since offices are closed and most streets are also closed to make way for the water festivities held. However, temples are open and people actually flock to temples since doing so is an important part of the Songkran festival.
How to Celebrate Songkran?
There are many ways people celebrate Songkran and the ways of celebration can vary from one place to another. Let us discuss how Songkran is celebrated in Thailand and also outside Thailand.
A celebration of Songkran in Thailand
Thailand is the main country that celebrates Songkran. However, within the country, there are disparities and similarities when it comes to the celebration of the festival.
Songkran in the Central Region
In the central region of Thailand, people usually celebrate by cleaning their homes when the Songkran festival nears. People dress up in colorful clothing or Thai dress. They celebrate Songkran by offering food to the monks and paying respects to their ancestors. They also make merit (an important practice in Buddhism) by giving sand to temples for construction or repair. Other activities for making merit include releasing fishes and birds. Nowadays, some people even include cows and buffaloes for making merit.
Songkran in the Southern Region
The Southern region of Thailand celebrates Songkran by following three rules. First, they work as little as possible and spend as little money as possible. Second, they do not hurt any animals or persons. And third, they do not tell lies.
Songkran in the Northern Region
The Northern region of Thailand celebrates Songkran by hosting the Elephant Procession Ordination event in Si Satchanalai District. This is a colorful parade wherein men are dressed in traditional clothing and they go to the temples by riding elephants. The Northern region also celebrates April 13 Songkran by lighting up firecrackers and firing guns to repel any bad luck. On April 13, they prepare food that they will offer to the monks. People then go to the temples to make merit and bathe their Buddha statues. They also pour water on their hands and ask for blessings from the monks.
Songkran in the Eastern Region
The Easter region of Thailand celebrates Songkran by making merits at temples all throughout the days of the Songkran festival. They also create a sand pagoda. There are also some people who give food to the elderly members of their families after making merit at the temples.
Songkran in Bangkok
Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand. In this area, the famous Silom Road and Khao San Road are closed to make way for the modern celebration of Songkran. Posts in these areas are equipped with buckets full of water and water guns. People party all day long by splashing water against each other.
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A celebration of Songkran Outside Thailand
The Songkran is also celebrated by some communities outside Thailand. For instance, in Malaysia, the Siamese community celebrates Songkran in ways similar to the traditional water festival celebration. In India, some parts of Northeastern India celebrate Songkran as Sangken. They consider it as the traditional New Year’s Day. the Buddhist community and the indigenous people celebrate this event. A similar event is held in South India wherein a festival called Okhli is celebrated by households wherein they keep barrels of water mixed with turmeric and chalk which they throw on to passersby.
Songkran is even celebrated in the USA – on the territory of Wake Island. Some members of the Air Force and American, as well as Thai contractors, usually celebrate Songkran on April 13.
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Happy Songkran Quotes, Messages, and WhatsApp Status
Since Songkran is already near, you should gather up the best Songkran quotes, messages, wishes, and greetings that you can share with your friends and families as a way to celebrate this important event of the year. If you are looking for some ideas of quotes, messages, and greetings for Songkran then you may use the list below:
- May Lord Buddha ponder upon you his divine blessings and fill your life with happiness, prosperity, success, and glory. May you are blessed with courage and positivity to meet each and every challenge you come across. Wishing you a very Happy Songkran!
- I wish Lord Buddha to shower his love and blessings on you and your family on the auspicious occasion of Songkran. I wish all your dreams come true, all your problems get solved and you enjoy a blessed year. Warm wishes to you on Songkran!
- Wish all of you big smiles, a bundle of joy, and loads of happiness. Happy New Year.
- We have flipped another page in our year. Fill this blank page with all good deeds and happiness. Happy New Year.
- My dear friend, I wish you and your family a very Happy Songkran. May all your sorrows be washed away with the blessed water. May the brightness and happiness of this occasion fill your life with new energies and prosperity.
- As the New Year has arrived, it is time to forget all the pains, sorrows, and problems of the past and enter the future which is full of opportunities. Wishing you a Happy Songkran Festival.
And those are all the important things you need to know about Songkran. You now know what Songkran is, its history, and how it is celebrated inside and outside Thailand. To make the celebration even better, you should send the best quotes, messages, and greetings for Songkran to your friends and families. The list above can help you with that.