Songkran, also sometimes referred to as the “Water Festival,” is the traditional Thai New Year, always celebrated from April 13 to 15. In fact, the celebration lasts almost a week. What does it look like? The whole country, especially the big cities, are turning into one big water battlefield.

The first association for a Pole is undoubtedly the traditional śmigus dyngus, except that in Thailand the pouring of water during Songkran takes on a much more violent character. Literally everyone takes part in the fun, well, except maybe the monks. Water pours constantly, in the morning, during the day, in the evening and at night. A tourist in the land of smiles at the time will certainly not come out of this adventure dry. The celebration is boisterous and very merry, with a river of poured water flowing through the streets. You can expect an attack from any direction, including from cars or tuk-tuks.

Even city buses are poor hiding places. They have open windows and doors, and all passengers are equipped with guns. When a bus slows down or stops at a bus stop, it’s a signal that someone is about to pour a bucket of water inside. Those traveling on it have even more fun and make the ride more pleasant by pouring people through the open windows. Massive, joyous celebration is seen everywhere. In every corner someone is lurking with a bucket or water gun. In addition, they are all smeared with a powder paste, the consistency of which resembles diluted clay. Simply put – madness!

What is Songkran?

Songkran comes from the Sanskrit word “sankrānti,” which means “transition” or “step forward” (in this context, it is a change in the position of the sun, a transition to the next zodiac). Thais believe that water cleanses spiritually. Today it has a more symbolic dimension. The pouring is supposed to wash away all the misfortunes of the past year and bestow good fortune for the next. Lubricating with powder, on the other hand, symbolizes blessings and wishes for prosperity. Today the symbolism is no longer so important, but the enjoyment of joyful water frenzy – yes.

Songkran just happens to fall on the hottest month in Thailand, so the mass water pouring brings incredible relief.

The celebration of the New Year is accompanied by ubiquitous music, dancing and delicious food. The streets are filled with stalls selling water guns, bowls, buckets and clear plastic bags into which to hide valuables to keep them from getting wet.

Songkran is also, unfortunately, a time of increased traffic accidents. People do not spare motorcyclists and drivers of other vehicles. It is important to remember to take basic precautions. This includes pedestrians.

Songkran is the most important holiday in Thailand and by far the most lavishly celebrated. For Thais, it’s also family time, a time to visit relatives and prepare for the year ahead. At this point I must point out that in the land of smiles we are currently in the year 2565. Songkran is also celebrated in Cambodia, Burma, southern China, Malaysia, Laos, Sri Lanka and some parts of India, and even in more remote corners of the world than Thailand, as well as in certain regions of the US or Australia. If you are wondering which month to visit Thailand, I strongly recommend around April to catch Songkran. No description of this holiday equals experiencing it in person.

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