Songkran, the world’s largest water fight, happens every year in Thailand. In April almost every shop in the country, from electrical stores to gardening centres, will start selling water pistols; and children will take to the streets, pistol in one hand and strange burning talcum powder in other, in anticipation of the greatest and most wildly celebrated festival in Thailand.
Songkran festival, the Thai New Year
Songkran festival is the Thai New Near and is a nonstop three-day party between the 13th and 15th of April. Traditionally it is a celebration of age, and a time to renew family ties. Older members of a family pour water over the hands of the younger members, thus cleansing them of any impurities, misfortune and evil. Water is symbolic of the cleaning process and signifies purity.
Although this is still the main underlying theme of Songkran, nowadays the festival takes another form; a nationwide water fight. Weaponry ranges from small water pistols to giant tanks full of water and ice. People load up the back of their pick-up trucks with family members and a tank full of spine shockingly cold water. Then they take to the streets, driving down main roads and back alleys alike, engaging in water war with anyone and everyone they pass.
People on the streets give as good as they get. They stand outside their houses and shops, temporary barricades in place, with water pistols, and jugs of ice-cold water at the ready. Any car that happens to pass by better wind up their windows, otherwise they’re in for a cold, wet and probably expensive surprise. No matter where you go in the country, you’ll receive the same treatment. The only way to avoid crinkled fingers and foot rot is to lock your door and board up you windows. But then that wouldn’t be any fun at all. It’s the best time of the year to be in Thailand but put your travel plans on hold, city centres generally become chockablock with traffic, and the streets turn into water world war three.
Songkran: water fun for all
The Songkran water fights are generally conducted in a purely lighthearted manner. Music blasts from every street corner, and everyone has a smile on their face. It’s a terrific party.
Songkran is extremely fun, exceptionally interesting and a must-see for anyone thinking of visiting Thailand. Foreigners make great targets so you are likely to be soaked from the moment the sun rises through until it sets in the evening. The Thais are extremely friendly towards foreigners so don’t be surprised to be dragged into innumerable households and cars to have paraffin-like whisky poured down you gullet, and to help soak other passersby.
Why go to Songkran
Songkran is an exquisite, chaotic festival, celebrated in a friendly and colourful atmosphere, and is of similar importance to the Thais as Christmas is in the West. The only disappointment comes when the sunsets on April 15th, you realise it is all over and you’ll have to wait for another year before it comes around again. But come the 13th April it’ll be time dig under the stairs, dust off that Supersoaker and wage water war once again.