Here Comes The New Year Again
From Mae Sai to Yala and from Mae Sot to Mukdahan April splashes water all over the country. The Thai New Year, aka Songkran, or the Festival of Water, completes the cycle of the New Year celebrations in Thailand.
To appreciate the uniqueness and flavour of Songkran to the full, start on a journey all over the country. The most intrepid and enterprising travellers will be rewarded with splashing water with elephants, spectacular processions, pouring water to the holy Buddha statues, pageant contests, sand pagodas’ building, playing saba and many other unexpected and unusual traditions. So no time to lose – start planning your trip to the provinces where the Thai New Year celebrations are at their grandest!
THE CENTRAL PROVINCES
Songkran with the elephants in Ayutthaya (April, 13–15)
Featuring: The historical park of Ayutthaya forms a dramatic background for the festival in Mons’ tradition and water splashing with elephants. Beautiful ceremonies are held in Wat Phra Mongkhon Bophit, where a large gilded image of Buddha resides.
Around: In Suphan Buri province (April 12–14) there is one of the biggest Songkran celebrations in the whole country.
The colours of the East in Nakhon Phanom (April, 12–15)
Featuring: Saba playing and sand pagoda building (Thop Pasai) in the seven local tribes traditions by the Indochina market. The neighbouring Renu Nakhon is famous for the ritual dances of ram puthai and guests blessing ceremony.
Around: In Nong Khai (April, 10–18) the two nations join their efforts to celebrate the occasion at the Thai-Lao Friendship Festival.
Lanna heritage in Chiang Mai (April 11–16)
Featuring: Songkran ‘Lanna-style’ is embraced with the ancient walls and unites the real northern flavour with homage to traditions: petards, the procession with the holy Buddha Phra Sihing image, and worshipping ceremonies in temples.
Around: The founder of the Kingdom King Ki Thai is paid respect to during Songkran celebrations in Sukhothai (April, 8–12), and the Thai Phuan tribal people make a unique elephants’ ordination ceremony.
Buddhism meets Hinduism in Nakhon Si Thammarat (April, 12–14)
Featuring: The southern vision of the festival is a colourful mix of Hindu and Buddhist traditions. The main ceremony of worshipping Shiva is called Nang Dan and was formed under the influence of Brahman Swinging Ceremony.
Around: In Hat Yai (Songkhla; April, 11–14) Songkran is the time for an unusual night parade and foam party.
For those lazy-bones who do not want to move far from home, we have a couple of ideas to offer.
SONGKRAN IN THE CAPITAL
The Big Festival in Bangkok (April, 13–15) features worshipping ceremonies in the nine holiest temples of the city.
SONGKRAN IN BANG SAEN
Just a stone’s throw from Pattaya (April, 16–17), Bang Saen gives a wonderful opportunity to watch muay tale (the traditional martial art of fighting by the sea).
Well, happy New Year to all of us. Happy Thai New Year!