Suk-san wan songkran! (Happy Songkran!)
It’s here. Oh boy, is it here.
Starting two days ago I was already getting hit with water trying to get to class. That will be the last time I drive or wear a white shirt for the next several days…I learned my lesson very quickly. And lost some face in the process going around town with a clinging, wet top. Farang (foreigner) fail.
Songkran is the Thai New Year/nationwide-days-long-water-fight. Naturally, those two things go together, right? Right. Songkran officially starts Friday and lasts through Monday. All I had been told was, “It’s crazy”. Well thank you, but that wasn’t very helpful in trying to prepare for what is currently going on outside my door:
Please note the giant Super Soaker poised and ready in the tuk tuk. I’m now wary of any moving vehicle passing by.
Though it’s not much, what I do know is:
- Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year
- Many people consider it a Buddhist festival, making a trip to a wat (temple) to pray, give alms and clean Buddha statues
- This is a time to also pay respect to your elders and receive blessings…
- And throw water on each other. Lots of water. Water from squirt guns, water from buckets, water from the moat and river… No one is safe – especially if you’re a blonde farang riding on your motorbike. In fact, then you’re really not safe.
Traditionally the throwing of water was an act of blessing and cleansing to start off the new year. While I believe there is still an element of this, it has turned more into a time of letting loose and trying to beat the heat at the end of the hottest season. For the most part, Thai culture is pretty reserved and proper – that changes a bit during the holidays of Songkran or Loy Krathong (the picture you’ve seen on Pinterest of all the floating lanterns is part of Loy Krathong). During Loy Krathong you have to dodge rogue fireworks, now you have to dodge armed children and teenagers which, actually, is turning out to be more difficult.
Some tips for survival from the Tourism Authority of Thailand note that Songkran is “not for rigorous water war” – my already-soaked clothes, bag and books would beg to differ.
My plan is to fortify myself with a water gun and colored shirt (and probably some Sang Som) to brave the weekend…see you on the other side.