Friday, April 15, 2016

Songkram Festival

The Songkran festival is the Thai New Year's festival which is held every April 13th but the holiday period includes 14-15 April as well. The word "Songkran" comes from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti literally "astrological passage", meaning transformation or change. It coincides with the rising of Aries on the astrological chart, the New Year of many calendars of SE Asia. The festive occasion is in keeping with the Buddhist/Hindu solar calendar.

Shrine with loads of Orchids

The Songkran celebration is rich with symbolic traditions. Mornings begins with parades. Visiting local temples and offering food to the Buddhist monks is commonly practiced. On this specific occasion, performing water pouring on Buddha statues is considered an iconic ritual for this holiday. It represents purification and the washing away one's sins and bad luck and is a festival of unity. Paying reverence to ancestors is also an important part of Songkran tradition.
The Parade Begins

The holiday is known for its water festival which is mostly celebrated by young people. Major streets are closed for traffic, and are used as arenas for water fights. Celebrants, young and old, participate in this tradition by splashing water on each other.

Sunset at Bophut Beach

Our Hotel, The Scent,, created a wonderful day of celebration for all of us. The night before Songkran, we arrived back at out hotel to find large water blasters provided for the water fights the next day. The morning started out with a parade and dancing. Then there was the Buddhist ceremony of pouring water over the Golden Buddha Shrine erected at the head of the infinity pool. Also, for some reason I could not find out, the staff smeared mud on their faces, prior to the festivities and as the day wore on, invited us to smear some on too.  There were the games. Simple games, played with eggplants and limes.

Oh, yes. I did make a video!

The Scent in on the main road of Samui. One didn’t venture out of the front of the hotel because the likelihood of having buckets of water flung at you from passing vehicles was boundless. Inside was somewhat safer, but in accordance of the day, I never knew when a staff member or a hotel guest would point the water blaster at me and let the soaking begin. Screams were heard around the pool all day, as staff took turns grabbing each other and throwing them into the pool. I guess if you have to work a holiday, may as well make it fun.

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