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Songkran Festival in Thailand: 13 - 15 of April, 2010

Bangkok, Thailand

Songkran is well known Traditional New Year and Water Festival that starts on the 13th of April every year in Thailand. And it is all about the throwing of water! People roam the streets with containers of water and water guns, or post themselves at the side of roads with a garden hose and drench each other and passersby. Exotic and entertaining. However, this was not always the main activity of this festival. In the past years, Songkran was traditionally a time to visit, honor and pay respects to elder people.

The festival is very popular among the tourist. They come in Thailand to discover and experience this unique part of the culture. For the locals, however, it is more than entertainment. Besides the throwing of water, people celebrating Songkran may also go to Buddhist monastery to pray and give food to monks. They are also cleaning Buddha images from household shrines as well as Buddha images at monasteries by pouring perfumed water over them. It is believed that these actions would bring good luck and prosperity.

The tradition traces back to the pre-Buddhist rituals of spring festivals where the throwing of water was meant as a symbol f washing all of the bad away. In northern Thailand the other tradition is also absorbed. People sometimes are carrying handfuls of sand to their neighborhood monastery in order to recompense the dirt that they have carried away on their feet during the rest of the year. This sand is collected and formed into pagodas, which later are decorated with colorful flags.

In the modern times, the emphasis is put on fun and water-throwing rather than on the festival's spiritual and religious aspects. There is no doubt that increasing tourism is forming a new tradition, that can be criticized or simply enjoyed. Thailand is a destination that has a special appeal, not only because of the traditions and water-plays, but also because of its natural beauty, uniqueness and hospitality that have to be experienced and appreciated.

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