Songkran Festival

The Songkran festival is famous in Thailand for its huge water wars, especially in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand. Yet, Songkran is a very old festival and its origins go back centuries ago.

A long time ago, Songkran was celebrated by Thai people between the harvest season and the planting season. The festival was celebrated in honor of the Thai New Year and was based on the Thai lunar calendar. The dates were based on astrological calculations. Nowadays, the dates of the festival are based on the western solar calendar, and Songkran festival occurs between 13th and 15th April.

Thai culture and traditions are mainly based on Buddhism and family, and the Songkran festival is no exception. Many religious ceremonies are held during the festival, one of those being the Dum Hua, a ceremony of forgiveness and apologizing. This ceremony is held in temples or at home.

Youngsters pour scented water on elders hands to show them respect and gratitude. The water traditionally used is the Som Poi water, a lightly scented with a golden color. The Som Poi water is made of dried leaves of Nagkassar, saffron, and Som Poi, a plant close to tamarind.
During the 3 days festival, Thai people give alms early in the morning in the temples and listen to the religious sermons. They also pour water on the hands of the religious statues in the temples, as a symbolic act of purification.

 

Two religious ceremonies are unique to Chiang Mai.The Mai Kham Bho procession, a ceremony that focuses on the Bho trees (a Bho Tree is a tree encircled by wooden supports called Mai Kham Bho and is mostly found in the temples). According to popular beliefs, placing a support around a tree brings luck and prosperity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second religious ceremony unique to Chiang Mai is the construction of sand pagodas in the temples. The villagers go to the temple, dressed in their finest clothes, build a sand pagoda and then sprinkle some scented water on it. This tradition comes from the belief that building a sand pagoda compensates for the accumulated dirt they have carried away from the temple on their feet throughout the year.

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