Episode 7: Songkran

No new episode this week
April 19, 2017
Chiang Mai Life
July 1, 2017

Episode 7: Songkran

Songkran was last week.

Yes, I’m late again. But I have been in computer setup hell. I won’t start with that.

First, what is Songkran? Songkran is the Thai celebration of the New Year. This does not fall on the same days as most of the rest of Asia. It is the traditional Thai Water Festival rather than Lunar New Year, which is celebrated in China, South Korea, Japan, and some other Asian countries. It is based on the Buddhist/Hindu spring festival; rather than the Lunar New Year, which is celebrated in some other Asian countries. The accounts of Songkran traditions in English are so varied that I cannot give a reliable report on the origin of the celebration.

There are some traditions that seem fairly consistent throughout Thailand. The Buddhist traditions that I know about are the washing of the statues with purified and scented water; and the offering of sand, which is needed for maintenance and construction at the temples. In each case, merit is also offered. I cannot verify the origin of the water tradition, but there are two stories. One is that everyone should visit the elders on this day and pour water on their hands and give an offering of food to honor them. Another story is that there is a Buddhist tradition of anointing the head, some say the head of the young monks, others say the Buddhist monks anoint the heads of the worshippers.  A good place to find more information about Songkran traditions isç.   http://www.chiangmai-chiangrai.com/rites_of_songkran.html If you want to see how a family celebrates here is my favorite. https://youtu.be/G2R643WB87w

In Chiangmai the most popular tradition is the water fight! As a precaution, I do not bring any electronic devises to the celebration. So, no pictures from me.  But  this can be a fun family outing, Here is a link to a sweet video from a family with two children celebrating.   It is just a spontaneous water fight that takes place in the streets all around Chiangmai. Both Thais and faring (foreigners) participate and there don’t appear to be any rules. You may be “anointed” by a bucket of water, a squirt gun or a small water cannon. If you are going to work or any place where personal appearance is important, carry a change of clothes.

The water fight became so rowdy in recent years was the holidays were becoming known as the “seven dangerous days.” that Chiangmai has banned alcohol sales during that time. http://www.chiangmaicitylife.com/news/songkran-2017-road-accident-statistics-provided-by-police/  This seems to have had little affect on traffic accidents, but from my personal experience the celebration was much calmer than last year. There was more police visibility on the street with the largest crowds (Huay Kaew Road north of the moat). Nor I did not see any trucks driving around with water guns attached to 50 gallon barrels or water, like last year.

If you are tired of getting wet, you can visit any of the local temples. There are several along the main road where you can avoid water fights and enjoy a peaceful atmosphere. In fact Chiang Mai has over 300 temples! I visited Wat Lok Moli http://thailandforvisitors.com/north/chiangmai/temples/wat-lok-moli.php near the moat on the north west side.

Entering Wat Mok Loki

In the first photo, you can see the new temple with the mountains of sand and the little flags signifying the donors.




There is a stage where announcements and traditional performances are on offer. I was pleasantly surprised to find that all the announcements were being translated into the main Hill Tribe dialect, and English!

Performance space at Wat Mok Loki during Songkran








Wat Mok Loki old temple tower

The final visual is a close up of the old temple tower, which you can see in the background of the first shot.













Joy Harmon
Joy Harmon
A crafter, a traveler, and a scribbler

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