Songkran is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year. It is also a Buddhist day. At Doi Nok Strawberry Resort it also offers something extra special with Rocket Day. Unique to our village at New Year, there is a competition that involves the launching of rockets of about 8m long made from bamboo.
The “business end” is also made from bamboo filled with black powder. They are lit individually by a man who shields himself from the flames, or explosion if it does not take off, by hiding his head behind a small steel sheet!! It goes on for much of the afternoon, and gets more and more vocally and musically expansive as time passes. The losers of the competition concede to the winners by puting soot on their own faces!
The most famous aspect of the Songkran celebrations is undoubtedly the throwing of water. This practice arises from the custom of the cleansing and pouring of water mixed with Thai fragrance on Buddha images and is seen as a way of paying respect and of bringing good fortune.
The festival showcases as a bathing ritual where people pour water on the senior Buddha monks. This process is believed to bring good luck to them. After this, the senior monk will give a sermon and a blessing to those attending the bathing ritual.This water festival in Thailand involves much merry making, presenting to monks, releasing birds into the air and paying respect to elders amongst the activities and of course the plentiful splashing of water to bring longevity, good health and prosperity!
In the cities this has developed into a massive water fight involving water pistols, hosepipes and buckets of iced water. In the villages however it is a lot less frantic and considered to be a much more civilised way of celebrating! The children might shoot water pistols at passing cars and motorbikes, but it does not normally result in a soaking!
It is also the time of year when children pay their respects to their elders, and a lot of Thai people go home from afar to do this.
You may also see chalk marks to cars and people; a custom originating from the chalk used by Monks to mark blessings.
Tourists have the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful festival with it’s traditional Thai performances, carnivals and parades as well as joining in the fun-filled activities. Do make sure you also get to see the more traditional side of the Thai New Year though too!
A festival that offers loads of excitement and fun whilst welcoming in the New Year and in temperatures of around 35c even getting slashed with water is very welcome!
All-in-all, it truly is an event not to be missed!
13th April 2016
At around 5am, a big gun is fired to mark the opening of Songkran
14th April 2016
Sweet making in the morning
Sand is collected from the river and taken to the Temple where a tiered pile is made with it. Throughout the year, people enter the Temple, taking a little sand with them when they leave, so this is to replenish it.
During this time, there is also a musical festival.
15th April 2016
During the morning, people make their way to the temple to pray.
In the afternoon, visiting elders is carried out, to pay their respect.
Water is also sprinkled from a small, silver bowl.
16th April 2016
Again people attend the Temple to pray. Some white string is taken along in a bowl, which is then burnt for good luck.
They also take a shirt in a bowl, which is prayed over, and then taken outside and shaken to get rid of last years bad luck.
On returning from the Temple the villagers go to the centre of the village and pray to respect the ‘Ghosts’ or ‘Spirits’. During this time no cars are allowed to leave the village.