The word Songkran is derived from ancient Sanskrit, a language dating back thousands of years, and means to ‘step into’, ‘enter’ or ‘pass into’.
It describes the monthly movement or ‘astrological passage’ within the zodiac from one sphere to the next; in April the sun leaves the sphere of Aries and enters that of Taurus, a period known as Maha Songkran or the Great Songkran. This signifies the start of the Thai New Year.
The first day of the festival, 13 April and which is known as Songkran Day, sees people clean their homes and public places likes temples and schools to get rid of any bad luck from the previous year and ready them for the new year. Another main activity is Song Nam Phra, a ritual that involves the pouring of scented water onto a temple’s sacred Buddha images.
It is important to note the water (traditionally scented with a perfume called Nam Ob) is poured not onto the head of the image, but rather the torso and body.
Songkran in Thailand is officially observed as a three-day national holiday from 13-15 April, although celebrations can go on for longer – up to a week in some places.
Songkran is celebrated by everyone, everywhere throughout Thailand and is a time for people who have moved to other cities or towns to travel back home and spend time with their family. Public transportation and hotels can be fully booked up months in advance, and so it is a good idea to plan as far ahead as possible.
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