Our visit to Thailand (Koh Lanta, specifically) happened to coincide with the celebration of Songkran, the Thai New Year. Traditionally, its observance has aligned with the Buddhist solar calendar, though it’s now celebrated each year from April 13–15. Songkran is an important holiday to the people of Thailand, and is commemorated by spending time with family as well as performing a variety of religious rituals. One of the most important symbols of Songkran is water, which represents cleansing away the transgressions and misfortunes of the previous year. During the three-day celebration, family members pour water into the hands of elders as a blessing and sign of respect, and celebrants similarly pour fragrant water into the hands of monks at temple.

Though the smaller ceremonies still take place, Songkran has also evolved into a livelier celebration, with people across the country participating in large-scale water fights. In downtown Bangkok, Khaosan Road – a popular street for backpackers, jammed with restaurants, shops, and bars – transforms into what is perhaps the world’s largest water fight. On the first day of Songkran, enthusiastic revelers arm themselves with squirt guns, garden hoses, plastic cups, or even enormous buckets filled with water and sprinkle drench anyone who passes by, be it on foot, motorbike, tuk tuk, or in a car. If you don’t feel like getting wet, tough cookies, because you will be getting soaked. So, if you find yourself in Thailand in mid-April, put away your cameras (unless they’re waterproof), put on a smile (but try to keep your mouth closed… no telling where the water comes from), and enjoy honoring the start of the year with those around you…

Sawadee pee mai! Happy New Year!


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