Happy Songkran Day

Songkran Day2During the dry season in Thailand from about the end of November until approximately the end of May there are only a few rainy days.  But, each year in early or mid-April Thai people expect to have a few days of heavy rain.  Because this is the hottest time of the year, the cooling, refreshing rains are a welcome relief.  This is possibly one reason why the Thai New Year on April 13 is a water festival.  The Thai name is Songkran Day.

Historically a water blessing was part of the Songkran celebration.  To show love and respect for their elders, children and youth gently poured a small amount of water on the hands of their parents and other loved adults.  They spoke a few words of good wishes as they poured the water.

That ceremony is still repeated in virtually every family today, but another aspect of the Songkran festival is a favorite of the young people.  It is common to see children and youth pouring, throwing and shooting large amounts of water on each other.  Some use small cups or glasses.  Others use buckets or hoses to get each other as wet as possible.  This community water fight continues for the 3 days of the Songkran festival in Bangkok, but can stretch to a week or longer in smaller towns and rural areas.  This activity extends beyond the family and usually includes anyone passing by in cars and trucks or on bicycles, motorbikes or on foot.

Since the Thai New Year is one of the biggest holidays in Thailand, it has become a tradition for a large portion of the Thai people to travel back to their hometowns and villages to spend time with their families.  This is true also for the Lutheran Hour Ministries Thailand (LHMT) staff.  The LHMT ministry center is closed for the Songkran holiday and the staff returned to their hometowns in northeastern, central and southern Thailand.

Thai Families Enjoy Songkran Together

April 13 is Songkran Day in Thailand.  It’s one of the biggest holidays of the year and usually extends for 4-5 days.  In some parts of Thailand the celebrations can last more than a week.

Songkran10Thai people traditionally have seen Songkran as a time for cleansing in hopes of washing away bad karma from the previous year and gaining good luck and prosperity in the year ahead.  Many Thai people give their homes a good cleaning during Songkran.  It’s also a time for cleaning Buddha images in their homes and local temples.  Originally this idea of cleansing was used as a time for blessing the elders in the family.  Children would take a small amount of water and pour it on the hands of their parents and grandparents to show respect and as a wish for good luck and good health.

Coming at the hottest time of the year, Songkran now has become a national water festival.  In addition to pouring a little water on their elders, many Thai people now use cups, buckets, water guns and even garden hoses to spray water on anyone and everyone around.  Some people ride around with large drums of water in the back of pickup trucks, throwing water on cars, on people riding motorbikes and people walking along the street.  In some neighborhoods Songkran has become an extended community water fight.  This is a time when Thai people really enjoy celebrating and having a good time.

In recent years the Thai government has announced an extended time for Songkran.  This year the official holiday runs from April 12 until April 16.  This makes it a good time for people to travel long distances to visit their families.  A large number of people living in Bangkok return to their hometowns and villages during Songkran.  Some businesses close and many street vendors disappear.  Highways are jammed, trains are overcrowded, planes are fully booked well in advance and many additional inter-city buses are scheduled to try to accommodate the huge number of people traveling throughout the country.

Our Lutheran Hour Ministries Thailand office is closed during the Songkran holiday.  Our staff are visiting their families in northeastern, central and southern Thailand.  They’ll also take this opportunity to rest and relax from their work.

Please pray for us as we travel and use this extended holiday weekend as a time of refreshment and reconnecting with our families.