Songkran Festival สงกรานต์ | Thai Culture

Tips for Songkran Festival

Thai New Year

 

Hi everyone.

How is your water fighting going?

Hope you are enjoying the Songkran Water Festival, this is the beginning of a New Buddhist  and Thai Year and is held at the hottest time of the year too. Part tradition (cleaning and preparing for the New Year – a Buddhist tradition) and part fun and practical the Festival involves dousing water on each other, smearing baby powder on faces and sometimes shampoo on your head for good measure.

It can be a little dangerous and you need to have the patience of a saint during this Festival period. Often the revelers get a little drunk and throw water at motorcycles driving by knocking them off, clamber onto buses soaking the passengers or throwing water through open windows at people. In areas where there are a lot of water fights the ground can get covered in a mixture of baby power and water …very slippery! You will need to go prepared. Dress in light clothes that dry fast, preferably bright fun Songkran shirts and shorts, put wallet, phone and other non water proof valuables in a plastic bag or water tight container. And most importantly smile and enjoy the fun. You cannot fight it so may as well go with it :-).

Advice for visitors

It will soon be the Thai water festival of Songkran, here is some timely advice for visitors. The normally quiet and respectful Thais go a little crazy at Songkran and arm themselves with water guns, hoses and buckets to soak anyone and everyone they see. If you go out on the street for the 3 to 4 days of the festival you most certainly will get wet and perhaps be smeared with white powder. Try to keep your temper and smile. Unlikely as it seems this is part of the ancient tradition of paying respect to elders.

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  • If you are a woman bear in mind thin white t shirts and tops can be pretty revealing when wet. Traditionally conservative Thai young men emboldened by the occasion and possibly alcohol can become quite boisterous and may try to touch you. The crowds will jostle and push, you will get soaked and painted with white powder. Remember it is one big party atmosphere, everyone just wants to have fun so take it all in good part.
  • If you really do not want to take part in the fun then you will need to get in enough supplies for at least 3 to 4 days. Movies, food, snacks and a good book will keep you entertained. Even then a quick trip to the local restaurant is likely to include a soaking.
  • Shopping malls and movie theatres will all be open all through Songkran. Once again you can guarantee a soaking on the way there and back. A meter taxi or bus may be of some protection but you are an easy target in a “dtúk dtúk” is Tuk Tuk.
  • There is no point in washing your car before or during Songkran it is sure to get white clay and water smears on it . Make sure that you have topped up your windscreen wipers with plenty of water. Be aware some more enthusiastic people may try to open your car doors. If you do go out on your motorcycle take great care, bike accidents soar during the festival period.
  • Songkran is not just about water fights. Do make an effort to see the more traditional side. Water is used to gently wash the hands of elders and monks and bathe. During the festival Thais construct sand pagodas in the temple grounds.

Vocabulary:

Nouns

English

Thai Script

Phonetic

Plastic bag

ถุงพลาสติก

tŭngpláastìk

Clothes

เสื้อผ้า sᵾ̂apâa

Water Gun

ปืนฉีดน้ำ

pᵾᵾnchìitnám

Powder

แป้ง

pɛ̂ɛng

Bucket

ถัง

tăng

Shampoo

แชมพู

chɛɛmpuu

Verbs

English

Thai Script

Phonetic

Plastic bag

ถุงพลาสติก

tŭngpláastìk

Clothes

เสื้อผ้า

sᵾ̂apâa

Adjective

English

Thai Script

Phonetic

Wet

เปียก

piàk

Hot

ร้อน

rɔ́ɔn

Slippery

ลื่น

lᵾ̂ᵾn

 

Enjoy Songkran, Thai New Year and play water carefully!

Jang

Thai Language teacher

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