Songkran Festival

by FieryTree on April 14, 2013 · 9 comments

Post image for Songkran Festival

Thai New Year & the Water Festival –

April 13th marked the start of the Songkran Festival, defining the Thai New Year. The festival is most known as the ‘water festival’ as buckets of water and water guns are out in spades – EVERYWHERE. Our roommate warned that you are not even safe on a bus, for they will splash water into the bus as you drive by.  Not wishing to miss any of this fun, our wonderful friend Manee took us to experience it first hand.

We began at Wat Pho, well known for it’s very large Reclining Buddha, 46 meters long (or about 151 feet). It is said to have one of the largest collection of Buddhas but time prevented us from spending much time wandering. We did follow a few traditions there, including returning sand to the monastery and bathing the buddhas.

WP_RecliningBuddha

Reclining Buddha – measuring over 151 feet.

First ritual honored – returning the sands, taken away on your sandals, to the monastery.  In other parts of Thailand, sand pagodas are made in front of the monastery as a form of worship/offering but also as a contest. This tradition has the benefit of also raising the height of the ground (if the Internet is correct).

WP_pagodas

Returning the sand to the temple and building a sand pagoda.

Next, we performed the bathing ritual of the Buddhas, done as a sign of respect. Traditionally, this is also done with the elders and transformed into the water festival including buckets and water guns.

WP_bathing

The Buddha is bathed as a sign of respect.

With these rituals honored, we headed to the most amazingly beautiful and oh my gosh cool, Temple Arun, or The Temple of Dawn. The Temple stands at 67 meters (over 219 feet tall).

WatArun

Beautiful Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)

The incredible thing is that you can walk up most of the steps and gain a gorgeous view of the city. Each step was at least a foot and a half high (which doesn’t sound like much but they were steep!). The fourth step was about at chin level. Long, very sturdy rails, wrapped in rope, helped us to ascend and descend mildly safely.

Steep stairs - fourth at chin level.

Steep stairs – fourth at chin level.

With our respects paid and the heat of the day increasing, we headed to our our first stop on Khoasan Road, typically called ‘the backpacker area’. At 11am, it was a mostly tame scene (versus Si Lom Road), which is not to say that we were not immediately soaked.

KR_waterguns

Khoasan Road – one of the hundreds of water gun fights in progress.

On this road, we could walk around though and there was enough space in between us and the next person  that water gun fire could be exchanged. The images below from Si Lom Road express how tightly packed we were. Soaking occurred again, but more due to the firehoses than actual water gun exchange. Both are necessary to experience. My preference would definitely be Khoasan Road though.

SL_firehoseSL_packed

With the packed people, the main form of revelry seemed to take shape in the powder/paste smeared on faces. My Internet search again explains this is a form of respect for the elders as it has a nice cooling affect. On the street, it is a nice method to connect with people or to smear their faces with white goop. James was often the target of this, whereas, only a few did so to me, always accomanied by “happy, happy” and a big smile.

SL-powder

Powdery paste about to be smeared on James’ face.

James' properly gooped.

James’ properly gooped.

And that concludes the brief (too late) overview of Songkran Festival. As it turns out, I couldn’t find a lot of information online (during my brief check about it) so feel free to correct and add information. Thank you to James for all of his pictures, as my search in many camera shops, did not yield me a dry bag like he had.

Happy Songkran!

Think you would journey to the streets?

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Click on a picture above or below to see more details. Few more I was able to take with my camera:

Few more looking down [thanks James!]:

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 pam mirabal April 14, 2013 at 10:37 am

Good Morning Maria and James,
That looked like a lot of fun. Thanks for sharring all your adventures with us. I am learning so much. How long do you both plan on staying there?
We have a friend who will be going over there soon. She got a teaching job there. I will find out more when I see her and let you know. Maybe the two of you could hook up?
Love to both of you, Pam

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2 FieryTree April 17, 2013 at 4:02 am

Hi Pam,
We are having a great time! Plan is to be in the area for a next year.
I’d love to meet up with your friend, feel free to send her my information.
Great to hear from you! *hug*
Maria

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3 Renee April 15, 2013 at 12:36 pm

My gosh, that looks insane, lol. Glad you and James had a good time, water guns, goop and all.

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4 FieryTree April 17, 2013 at 4:03 am

It was great fun!

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5 Karen April 16, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Maria,
You are having way too much fun over there! You look so happy. You may never want to come back to the US!
I would hide inside on the “water day”. Crazy fun!!!!!

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6 FieryTree April 17, 2013 at 4:04 am

We are certainly enjoying it! A lot of people do hide inside during the water days but it can be so hot it’s kind of refreshing…except when they are dumping ice water down your back. 🙂 Definitely worth experiencing though!

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