Songkran: How The World’s Biggest Water-fight Came To Be

The festival of Songkran is an old tradition in Thailand, which marks the Thai Lunar New Year. The festival traditionally lasts four days, and is often referred to as the Water Festival. But do you know how water got involved in the New Year celebrations?

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Traditionally, water was a means of paying respect and wishing people good luck. But we are talking about a small splash of water, not buckets. Over the years however, it evolved into a wild, nationwide water fight, and an excuse to party. It is probably the element of fun that made water fight such an internationally recognizable symbol of the festival. Even elephants get in on the action, and as photographic evidence has revealed, a bucket or even a water gun is no match for a pachyderm’s trunk.

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It should also be known that Sonkran is traditionally a time to visit and pay respects to one’s family elders, friends and monks. Besides the waterfight, many also celebrate Songkran as a Buddhist festival and may go to a Buddhist monastery (Wat) to pray and give food to the monks. The images of Buddha in household strines and monasteries are also cleansed during this period by gently pouring water mixed with Thai fragrance over them.

Very often, the images of Buddha from various important monasteries are paraded through the streets so that people can toss water at them, ritually “bathing” the images. By capturing the water after it has been poured over the Buddhas, for pouring it on the shoulder, it is believed that the “blessed” water will bring good fortune. As one would imagine how the young would take to a tradition that officially allows them to “play with water”; Coupled with the fact that April is also Thailand’s hottest month, thus gave rise to the World’s Biggest Water-fight.

CNN Travel


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Author: Catrine Carpenter

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