Songkran (สงกรานต์) is the Thai New Year celebration that runs from April 13 – 15th each year. This uniquely Thai festival is most famous for Thais splashing each other with large amounts of water. Songkran is a period of fun and games.
The splashing of water which is what people normally think of when they think of Songkran originated with the pouring of water over Buddha statues and then collecting the “cleansed” water and then gently pouring it over the elder members of the family. However the tradition has evolved to the water fights and water dousing more commonly associated with Songkran mainly as a way to beat the heat. April is typically the hottest month in Thailand with temperatures sometimes reaching 100°F (40°C) so it’s a perfect time to get a little wet.
Nowadays the spiritual and religious origins of the Songkran festival are almost an afterthought. Children and adults line roads with water guns, hoses, bowls, or anything else that allows them to douse those passing by with water. Others hop into pickup trucks filled with barrels of water and go around spraying people.
Another common sight during Songkran is people with a white chalk or talcum powder caked on their faces. This is believed to originated from Buddhist traditions where monks mark blessings with chalk.
The traditional greeting during Songkran is “Suksan Wan Songkran” (สุขสันต์วันสงกรานต์) which means “Happy Songkran Day”
Unfortunately, the fun can get out of hand and Songkran is also known for the many traffic fatalities that occur during the festival. Wet roads and massive consumption of alcohol are the two usual culprits in most accidents. Many campaigns have been instigated to lower roadway deaths during Songkran but it still is the peak season for road accidents.