“Songkran” is the Thai traditional New Year and an occasion for family reunion. At this time, people from the rural areas who are working in the city usually return home to celebrate the festival. Thus, when the time comes, Bangkok temporarily turns into a deserted city.
The festival falls on April 13 and the annual celebration is held throughout the kingdom. In fact, “Songkran” is a Thai word which means “move” or “change place” as it is the day when the sun changes its position in the zodiac. It is also known as the “Water Festival” as people believe that water will wash away bad luck.
This Thai traditional New Year begins with early morning merit-making offering food to Buddhist monks and releasing caged birds to fly freely into the sky. During this auspicious occasion, any animals kept will be set free. Paying homage to one’s ancestors is an important part of the day. People will pay their respects to the elders by pouring scented water over the palms of their hands. The elders in return wish the youngsters good luck and prosperity.
In the afternoon, after performing a bathing rite for Buddha images and the monks, the celebrants both young and old, joyfully splash water on each other. The most-talked about celebration takes place in the northern province of Chiang Mai where Songkran is celebrated from April 13 to 15. During this period, people from all parts of the country flock there to enjoy the water festival, to watch the Miss Songkran Contest and the beautiful parades.
In Bangkok, the Buddha image “Buddhasihing” is brought out from the National Museum for people to sprinkle lustral water at Sanam Luang opposite the Grand Palace.