Thai New Year and Songkran - Bangkok festivals
Guide to Songkran in Bangkok
Songkran is the Thai New Year that is celebrated every year from the 13th to the 15th of April. It derives its name from the Sanskrit word meaning ‘Astrological Passage.’ In the past, the Songkran celebrations took place on a date fixed by various astrological calculations, however, in recent years the days of celebration are fixed well in advance. Should these dates coincide with a weekend, the weekdays that immediately follow the weekend are declared a holiday.
Songkran is the most striking of all the festivals in all of Thailand and it coincides with similar festivals across Asia in countries like Burma, Lao State and Cambodia. It is a celebration of the vernal equinox which is similar to the Indian Holi festival, the Christian Easter festival and the Chinese Ching Ming Festival.
One tradition that is common to all Songkran festivals is the fun activity of splashing people with water. During the festival, the locals carry containers filled with water, water balloons and water pistols in order to drench passers by. Along with this tradition, people also clean their houses and visit Buddhist monasteries and donate food to the monks.
In many parts of Bangkok, the celebrations take place with a pageant where young women of the area get together for a beauty and talent contest. The community judges this event, and the winner is crowned. In other areas of Bangkok, Songkran is treated like April Fools day, and young women gang up together to play pranks on the men. By a joint effort, the men are captured, bound and have their faces blackened. This is all done in good spirit, and everyone has fun during Songkran.
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Further information: Bangkok International Jazz festival is another event worth considering.