Songkran in Chiang Mai April 12 – 16
Songkran in Chiang Mai
Chang Mai, as the largest cultural center in Northern Thailand, hosts the biggest Songran celebrations in the land. Traditionally, the festival dates were determined by the lunar calender and start in mid-April. Today the dates are set as April 13th – April 15th. However, in Chang Mai, the celebrations are stretched to last at least five or six day!
BEFORE THE FESTIVAL
Thailand greets in the New Year with the cleansing properties of water. In the days leading up to the festival, houses in Chiang Mai are thrown wide open as families start to clean house. Families prepare offerings, new robes and favorite dishes for the monks. Young people ask for blessings by pouring jasmine-scented or fragrant water on the wide-open palms of their elders. Everywhere there is a spirit of anticipation of the new year.
THE WATER FIGHT
Songkran is rooted in the belief that water brings luck, cleanses the body and soul, and preps participants for the coming year, but the festival is now most famous for the water fights. During this period, the streets of Chang Mai close and the citizens start to celebrate with a water free-for-all! Armed with everything from water guns, buckets, hoses and scented talc, celebrants roam the streets and drench each other in cooling water.
In the past, a delicate sprinkling was all that was required. But as the centuries have passed, the festival evolved into an all-out water fight that the young and old enjoy. Don’t be surprised if you’re doused in water even if you innocently venture down the street. The water fight symbolizes the true spirit of fun and the beginning of the New Year.
For Songkran in Chang Mai, locals also celebrate the solemn, spiritual side of the New Year. On the third day of the New Year celebration the temples and all images of Buddha are washed with sacred, jasmine-scented water. Families and friends wear traditional Thai garb and place jasmine leis around their necks. While enjoying the water festival, you may encounter locals decorated with ritual string around their wrists and arms. They may offer to tie some around your arms as well. The string is a symbol of well-wishes and good luck for the coming year. Local tradition dictates that you continue to wear them until they fall off on their own, but most take it off after about a week as it can become pretty funky.
Tourists participating in the Songkran celebrations may also encounter persons walking about with white paste in silver bowls. This paste, when applied to the body and face, is believed to ward off evil and protects the wearer during the New Year.
Enjoy the food, the culture and beauty of Thailand during your stay and get a chance to take part in an event of a lifetime. Greet the New Year with water and with love during Songkran in Chiang Mai.
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