Category: Buddhist holidays
The Songkran festival (Thai: สงกรานต์, pronounced [sǒŋ.krāːn], listen; is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year's Day from 13 to 15 April. The word "Songkran" comes from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti, or literally "astrological passage") meaning transformation or change. It coincides with the rising of Aries on the astrological chart, the New Year of many calendars of South and Southeast Asia. The festive occasion is in keeping with the Buddhist/Hindu solar calendar.
Songkran celebration is rich with symbolic traditions. The morning begins with merit-making. Visiting local temple and offering food to the Buddhist monks are commonly practiced; however, on this specific occasion, performing water pouring on Buddha statues is considered an iconic ritual for this holiday – it represents purification and the washing away all of their sins and bad luck. As a festival of unity, people who have moved away usually return homes to their loved ones and elder family members. As a way to show respect, younger people often practice water pouring over the palms of elders’ hands. On the same occasion, paying reverence to ancestors is also an important part of Songkran tradition.
The holiday is known for its iconic water festival, which is mostly celebrated by young people. Major streets are closed for transportation means, and are used for as arenas for water fights. Celebrants, young or old, participate in this tradition by splashing water on each other. More importantly, traditional parades are held, where cars are decorated with traditional ornaments. Also, central festival often hold pageant contest, or “Miss Songkran,” where contestants are dressed in traditional Thai clothing.
People in this region always clean their house when approaching the Songkran Festival. Everyone dressed up in colorful clothes. After people present food to the monks they will offer a Requiem to the ancestors who have passed away. People also has the other merit such as pagoda which is intended to give sand to temple for construction or repair. Other forms of merits is releasing bird and fish. Nowadays, people also release other kinds of animal, for example, buffalo and cow.
In the southern part of Thailand, they call Songkran festival as free day. People in this part also do everything like in the other part of Thailand. They have their own three rules. First, everyone should not be busy from any work and should not spend any money. So before April 13 of ever year, people in the south prepare everything that should be used in that three days. Second they should not hurt other people or animals. Third they should not lie.
In April 13, the northern part of Thailand always has gunfire or firecrackers to repel all bad luck. In the next day, people prepare food and useful things to give to the monk at temple. People have to go to temple to do merit and bath Buddha's statue and after that they have to pour water on the hands of revered elders and ask for their blessings.
People in the eastern part also have activities like in the other part of Thailand, but people in this part always do merit at the temple all throughout the days of Songkran Festival. Some people, when they finish giving merit at the temple, prepare food to be given to their elderly members of their family.
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