Songkran is a New Year festival celebrated in Thailand and other South East Asian countries for about 3 days. Songkran comes from a phase in the Sanskrit language that means ‘Passage of the Sun’. It marks the year that Buddha died. People celebrate rinsing bad spirits from the past year so they can have a new start.
Buddhism is a very big part of Songkran. Buddha’s real name is Siddhartha Gautama. When he was young he lived in a very wealthy palace. His father was very worried because his advisers told him that if Siddhartha saw oldness or death he would want to become a monk instead of a prince. His parents distracted him with gifts and dancers. When he was older Buddha demanded to see the world. He then realized that a lot of the people were very poor and had very little food. He met a monk who seemed very happy therefore, he decided to become a monk also and be just as happy. He learned how to mediate, and then learned about the human life cycle and how people must be, to be excellent. He then became the Buddha, he taught many people about how to live a good and healthy life until he passed away. I think he meant that the world wouldn’t be perfect, but you can make it perfect by helping the people in need, not by giving them money but by giving them kindness.
Spending time with family and friends is a very important part of Songkran. When we went to Bangkok it wasn’t busy at all compared to what it is normally. The reason why is because everybody goes back to their hometown to visit friends and family. On the new year morning, we woke up, sat mom and dad down and sprinkled water on their shoulders. We said something nice about them. Showing elders respect like this is an important part of Songkran. Families also could go to temples to bring offerings, like food, to the Monks. People will also sprinkle water on the shoulders of Buddha statues.
The temples in Thailand are very beautiful and the architecture is absolutely stunning. The carvings on the walls are my favourite because they are so detailed. It’s incredible to think how it is all hand made. We saw a lot of sand castles at the temples. Some people bring sand to the temples during Songkran. The sand is in big piles on the ground and decorated with flags on top. This represents sand from people’s shoes from the past year.
There are many ways to celebrate Songkran and one of them is a big water fight. People spray everybody who walks by with their water guns, hoses and water buckets. It is impossible to go to the grocery store and not get wet. While we were in Bangkok we met up with mom’s cousin, Kamma. We all got into the spirit when we bought water guns. The water fight we went to got SO big that they had to close the street. I wondered where we would refill our water guns but there are lots of bucket stations along the road. The local businesses set them up to get a few extra Thai Baht (money).
A couple of nights we took a tuktuk back to Kamma’s apartment. A tuktuk has no windows or doors. We thought it was a good idea at the time. While we were driving this guy with a very big bucket of water, poured it into the tuktuk. We got soaked!
I was really excited to meet up with Kamma because she previously visited us in Calgary in October. She taught us a lot about Buddhism and we got to experience Thai culture with her, which was very unique from the past experiences we have had so far on this trip. My favourite part about Songkran is the water fight because, it was really hot in Bangkok and the water helped me to cool off. Although you don’t know when you will get splashed, it is always done in fun. Just remember to wear your bathing suit as a bucket of water could be coming your way!
We're the Danchuks - follow our explorations and family adventures in a wide world (2018).