One of the most important festivals in Thailand is the Songkran Festival. It is held to welcome the Thai New Year, and is usually from April 13-15. In the beginning, the date was based on astrological calculations, but now, the Thai government sets the date. It is also the longest holiday in Thailand, so most people go home, much like Christmas or Thanksgiving in the United States.
Songkran Festival has been celebrated for centuries as the Thai New Year. The festival is believed to be an adaptation of an important festival in India. The biggest celebrations are in northern Thailand, especially Chiang Mai. In Chiang Mai, the people festival lasts 6 days! The festival is now one of Thailand’s biggest tourist attractions.
The Songkran Festival is often called the “water festival”, because people throw water on each other, using water guns and throwing water bombs at anyone who walks near them. Thai people also visit their family, friends, and neighbors. On the first morning of the festival, most Thai go to the temple to pray to confess sins and ask for blessings from the Buddha to have good luck in the coming year.
Thai people usually clean the statues of Buddha during Songkran by pouring water on them. They believe this brings good luck and prosperity for years to come. In some places, Buddhas from important temples is taken through the streeds so people can throw water directly on it. In addition, the public takes sand to the nearby monasteries to make stupas, then decorate them with colorful flags. Thai people believe the sand is represents sin from the past year, so if they make stupas from the sand, then Buddha will forgive their sin. They also believe that people who participate in this festival will have prosperity.
Children in Thailand are also very enthusiastic about this celebration. Because the festival is a national holiday, they go to various tourist sites, such as the zoo. Parents splash water on their children pray for them to gain favor and blessing.