Songkran is a time for family reunions, visits to temples and spring housecleaning. – Songkran is the celebration of the traditional Thai New Year and lasts several days.
During the festival, revellers participate in traditional water pouring, which varies for a gentle pour onto the head or shoulders, to a full body splash! The symbolism of the water is important because it represents the cleansing of all the misfortunes in the previous year and a new beginning for the New Year.
Many temples (Wats) will be full of people waiting to give alms to monks, either waiting to receive their blessing inside the Wat, or waiting outside to give offerings to congregations of monks.
Many Wats will feature pagodas made of sand, build outside the temple walls. This sand represents all the soil that has left the temples on the shoes of all of its visitors. They will be decorated with flags, candles and other gifts placed by visitors to the Wat.
A special feature of Songkran celebrations is the Rod Nam Dum Hua ceremony, which is celebrated throughout the day. On this day younger people will pour fragrant water on the hands of the elder’s as a gesture of humility and as a request for their blessings.
People will also pour fragrant water over Buddhist statues in the temples to clean them – others make merit by doing this in nine different Buddhist temples on this particular day. Traditionally this water would be then taken to wash the hands of the elders of your community.
Ram Nam Dum Hua is also an occasion where if a family cannot visit the temple, they will wake up early to give alms to the monks that pass by their homes. Many households do this every week but at this time it is the whole family who waits to give alms to the monks.
Traditionally the water used during the Ram Nam Dum Hua ceremony is fragrant. Even today, fragrant water can be found in found in people’s homes and Wats during this time – even the fountain at Cape Panwa Hotel will contain fragrant water during the Ram Nam Dum Hua festivities.
It is most certain that the water that you will encounter during the Songkran Festival will come from a wide variety of sources, such as water guns, ice cube trucks, buckets, hoses and even fire trucks.
At Cape Panwa Hotel we celebrate Songkran by visiting a Buddhist temple in the morning, having an enormous water fight on the beach, blessing people who selflessly take care of others and have a Thai buffet on the beach at Panwa House.
Don’t forget that if you are splashed, the response you should give is ‘Sawasdee Pi Mai’ (Happy New Year), and then splash them back!