Deriving from the Sanskrit language, the word Songkran means to pass or to move into.
In this context, the meaning implies to the passing and the moving of the sun, the
moon and the other planets into one of the zodiacal orbits. And the Grand Songkran
Festival which falls in Aries indicates the new era of the Thai New Year. Owing to
the ancient Indian belief, the Grand Songkran Festival is most appropriate to be the
Thai New Year due to the timing of the best season which is known as the spring of
India which comes right after the cold season of winter. Also, there are other aspects
supporting this belief such as blooming flowers, the fresh atmosphere of nature and the
livelihood of all living creatures.
With the great influence from the Indians, the Songkran Festival portrays the typical
ways of life of the Thais which involve the agricultural aspects. Free from their regular
routine work, the Thai citizens will find time to perform their annual rites of showing
respect to their ancestors. The highlight of the festival will include the younger Thais
paying respect to their elders by sprinkling their hands with scented water. And in order
to welcome the New Year, the celebration will include the delightful colourful local entertainment,
which in fact, suitably unites the mutual relationship between members of the family, society,
nature and the surroundings. Therefore, this Songkran Festival has proved to be the most important
and grandest festival of the year. Moreover, our neighbouring countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia
and Lao PDR. have also organised this type of festival.
During the Sukhothai period, the Songkran Festival was practised both in the royal court palace
and among the ordinary citizens. However, the size of the celebration was not as elaborate as of
today. Back in those days, civil servants and other government officials would pay homage to the
king, and would drink the oath of allegiance to the king or the government, while the king would
provide an annual salary to all officials. Later on in the Ayutthaya period, the festival was expanded
by including the bathing of the Buddha image. Also, the festivities would include the forming of sand
pagodas and entertaining celebrations. In the Rattanakosin period, the rituals have been conducted in a
similar pattern as those during the Ayutthaya period.
:: Schedule ::
April 13th .:. Wan Songkran ( Wan Chai, Maha Songkran )
Wan Sangkan Long means the old year passes by (Sangkan is derived from the word Songkran.
Lanna people cannot pronounce double consonants. So Songkran is pronounced Sangkan; Pret is
pronounced Pet; Krot is pronounced, Kot). According to the belief of the northern people,
there are Kun Sangkan (a male) and Nang Songkran (a female). On New Years Day (Sankan Long),
a prediction will be announced, similar to the Songkran announcement of the Central Region;
for example, Sankan Long happens on Sunday with Kun Sangkan, riding on the Naga with a cloud
in his hand, moving quickly from the west. Nang Songkran named Siri, holds a cannon, meaning
there will be war. Insects will destroy the rice fields. Rain will be abundant. Cattle will
fall ill. The wealthy will suffer. White Yang wood is the best quality wood. The spirit of rice
lies in the bamboo. Those born on Tuesday will face problems. Those born on Saturday will have
good fortune. Red objects and live beings will be costly. White objects will cost less.
April 14th .:. Wan Nao ( Wan Da )
Wan Nao or Wan Da is an auspicious day when everyone must be cheerful, and must not curse or
behave badly. In the morning, food and offerings for the monks are prepared and then distributed
to friends and relatives in the following morning. In the afternoon, sand is brought to the temple
compounds and sand stupas are created as a form of worship to the Lord Buddha. Finally the time comes
for gently splashing water at one another with a word of blessing.
April 15th .:. Wan Talerng Sok ( Wan Phaya Wan )
Wan Phaya Wan is the most important day of the New Year celebration or the
Wan Taleung Sok of the Central Region.
There may also be 4 additional days
of celebration: 15 April (Wan Pak Pi), 16 April (Wan Pak Deuan), 17 April (Wan Pak Wan),
and 18 April (Wan Pak Yam).
Wan Songkran involves merit making, offering food to monks,
listening to sermons, paying respect to elders, and having fun.
:: Get To Know Songkran Custom ::
• Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year. The festival offers not only the fun
water throwing but also other interesting activities such as merits making and house cleaning,
considered a way to help protect the environment.
• The purpose of bathing or splashing water in the Songkran Festival is to give and
request for blessings through water, not for the rigorous water war.
• Applying soft chalk powder called "Din Saw Phong" on ones face or body is traditionally
an individuals choice of dressing and, thus, a personal business. You should not offer unsolicited help
with it. To touch others without their permission is considered an ill manner by civilised Thais.
• The proper bathing is divided into two categories:
- The bathing rite for the elders (aged over 60 years old, according to the old custom) as a tribute of respect
and for blessings. As a youngster, you can pour scented water onto the hands of the elders without pronouncing
any blessings. The elders in return will bestow their best wishes upon you.
The bathing rite for the peers or juniors. You should ask for permission before gently pouring the scented water
over the persons shoulder and down his/her back and uttering words of blessing for the New Year. However, if you
are close friends, you can enjoy splashing water on each other as you wish yet with appropriate manners and moral
and safety cautions.
• The water used for bathing and splashing is regarded as sacred. Thus, it must be clean water,
"Nam Ob" (water saturated with perfumes, either of Thai or Western origin) or scented water with floral
pedals, and NOT dirty water or ice.
• Traditionally, upon the bathing ritual, the elders are presented with toilet items, namely clothes,
Pha-hom, Pha-nung (loin cloth), handkerchiefs, towels, soap, perfumes and powder. However, not every aforementioned
article is required. You can prepare the toilet gift set as you see fit and may or may not add other presents such
as flowers and sweet.
• Making obeisance is the highest form of respect by prostrating oneself with palms pressed together
and then bowing until the pressed palms, arms and forehead touch the floor in front of the person or the image
one pays respect to. The palms must be kept pressed together and separated when making obeisance to the Buddha
image or monks only.
• To bathe the Buddha image or any idol, it is more appropriate to pour the scented water on other parts
of the Buddha image than on its head.
• Rod Nam Dum Hua or paying respect through the pouring of Songkran water is the northern Old Lanna custom.
The ceremony is different from those in other parts of Thailand in some details. The term Dum Hua is dialectal and may
present a wrong meaning if employed for the Songkran ceremonies elsewhere in the country.
• Songkran is the custom of all Thai people regardless of religions. Those who are not Buddhists can make merits
on this occasion based on their religions and beliefs and also enjoy other activities of the Festival.
• The Songkran festival is held only once a year. We would like to invite all Thai people to come out and celebrate
the festival in Thai traditional costume to preserve our glorious culture. Besides, our costume is cool!
Information provided by TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand)