Sawadee pii mai, ka

Songkran: Ten things you need to know about the Thai New Year by James Robertson

Songkran is the traditional celebration of New Year in Thailand, with residents washing away their sins and partying in the streets. Here are ten things you need to know about the Thai festival:

1) The word “Songkran” derives from the Pali language of the Therevada Buddhist scriptures, meaning “for movement or change.”

2) Originally, the date for the festival was set by astrological calculation but has since been fixed.

3) Thai people officially changed the New Year to January 1 to coincide with the Western world, but the traditional festival is still regarded as a national holiday in Thailand.

4) Tradition sees people firing gallons of water at each other. Originally believed to cleanse the soul, it’s since become a playful celebration of “water wars” – even police officers aren’t exempt.

5) The festival falls in the hottest time of the year in Thailand, at the end of the dry season with temperatures rising to over 40°C on some days.

6) It is traditionally a time to visit and pay respects to elders, including family members, friends, neighbours and monks.

7) Another of Songkran celebration involves releasing small fish back into rivers and streams. Small birds are also released from cages as part of the festivities.

8) The most popular celebrations are in the northern city of Chiang Mai, with the festivities known to last over a week.

9) Tourists swarm to the cities in Thailand to celebrate Songkran as the parties, boozing and water fights are becoming increasingly popular with foreigners.

10) Foods that are served at traditional Songkran Festivals will depend on the part of Thailand you visit.

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