GUEST BLOG BY MORNING GLORY
It’s cool spring now in northern countries, but April is the height of Thailand’s scorching hot season. This means the timing is perfect for the Thai New Year Songkran water festival but there’s a strong cultural significance underlying all the fun.
Water is a symbol of cleansing, so splashing each other signifies the washing away the misfortunes or bad luck of the old year and a fresh start for the New Year.
Songkran was originally celebrated in the north, and is believed to have been brought over by the Burmese, who adapted it from the Indian Holi festival. It spread across the country in the mid-twentieth century and is now celebrated nationwide as well as in Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos.
Derived from Sanskrit, Songkran means “to pass into” – referring to the movement of the sun, moon and planets into a new phase, and therefore the start of a new year. It’s a time of renewal, reunion, and paying respects for Thai people.
Dating back to ancient times, the Songkran festival was celebrated both in the royal court and general public, but were much more solemn compared to today’s water parties. Civil servants and government officials paid homage to the king and drank the oath of allegiance, while the king gave out the annual salary to all government officials. The ritual included the bathing of the Buddha image, the formation of sand pagodas and entertainment, which continued into modern times and grew into the public street parties we enjoy today.
For Thais, this the time when Buddha images are cleansed with scented water to bring prosperity for the New Year. The water used to clean the images is considered holy and is usually collected, then sprinkled on elders to bring them good luck. Most Thais spend the holidays with family as Songkran is the time for family re-unions, visits to the temple and annual house cleaning.
Cities around Thailand close some streets to host wet and wild street parties and Chiang Rai is no exception! If you’re in Chiang Rai during Songkran, head into town where you can see ancient traditions alive and flourishing – early morning offerings to the monks, robe changing ceremonies for Buddha images, parades, games and sports, beauty contests, music and entertainment, in a lively display of northern culture.
Want to learn more about Thai culture and what Chiang Rai offers? Check out Chiang Rai’s attractions and tours available for our guests here at Museflower Retreat & Spa, Chiang Rai, Thailand? Find out more here.
ABOUT MORNING GLORY
Morning Glory lives in Bangkok where she takes care of her family and works as a writer and communications consultant.Her past struggles with stress, chronic fatigue and a spine injury led her on a journey in search of alternative healing, and she has travelled around Thailand, Bali, India and Sri Lanka exploring different types of healing retreats and techniques, and led her to practice yoga and Reiki.
Morning is her favorite time of day, when she wakes up to the sound of birds singing in the garden. This flower always reminds her of her childhood, and Thai sautéed “Red Fire Morning Glory” is one of her favorite vegetarian dishes!