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Water Festival | New Years in Thailand

Water Festival in Thailand

Water Festival activities in Thailand to welcome the New year

The streets of Thailand will be splashing with fun, music and excitement for the Water Festival (also known as the Songkran Festival) between April 13th to 15th.

The Thai people are well known for their intricate and beautiful fruit carving. During the Songkran Festival  fruit carvings are prepared to display and share as you will see further down in this article. But first, let me show you why the Songkran festival is also called the Water Festival.

Anyone who is outside in Thailand during this time is a fair target for drive-by water shootings, water balloons and garden hoses. But not to worry, the Water Festival activities are all in good fun to welcome the Thai New Year. In fact, the Water Festival is a welcome relief from the hot weather in Thailand during April.

Many other countries in Asia also celebrate a New Year in April and regard this time as a period of transition to welcome positive changes, while clearing out negative elements from the past. Many of us may associate this idea with Spring season, such as spring cleaning, which doesn’t sound as fun as a massive street water fight! So I’d like to invite you on another armchair adventure to mystical Thailand for the Water Festival.

The Water Festival (Songkran Festival) is a time of Cultural and Spiritual Significance

The word Songkran in Thai means “a change”, so the Thai New Year symbolizes a cleansing period. In addition to cleaning their own homes, temples and statues, the Thai people also participate in spiritual rituals during the three day festival. Acts of good deeds that are carried out during this time include giving money and paying respect to elders and religious statues. Water is symbolic during the Songkran because of its cleansing properties and its ability to wash away bad luck.

Monks participating in Water Festival in Thailand

Sprinkling of scented water on an elder is a sign of respect

As a sign of respect, the Thai people will sprinkle scented water on elders, including monks. This humble act eventually evolved into the Water Festival fun that flood the streets of Thailand with merriment and tourists from all around the world. Even though the Water Festival is supposed to be a three day event, many of the festivities start earlier and may last up to two weeks in some parts of Thailand.

Check out the wet and wild fun at Thailand’s Water Festival:

Water Festival water pistols

Water pistols are often a “weapon” of choice for the playful water fights

Water Festival water buckets

Water Festival Event in Thailand

The refreshing water is a relief from the heat during Thailand’s hottest month

Water Festival activities on the streets of ThailandDoesn’t that look fun and refreshing? There are a few Water Festival rules, however. Water cannot be thrown at moving vehicles or at elderly locals who specifically request to stay dry during the festivities.

Here is a wonderful five minute video explaining the significance of the Songkran Festival/Water Festival. It will give you a short escape to the beautiful country of Thailand:

Amazing Thai Fruit Carving at the Water Festival (Songkran Festival)

The Thai people are well known for their skills in fruit carving. One of the Water Festival/Songkran Festival activities will involve fruit carving displays and live fruit carving demonstrations:

Thai Fruit carving for Water Festival

Thai fruit carving is often showcased at The Water Festival/Songkran Festival Celebrations

Live Fruit Carving for the Water FestivalMy carving teachers are Thai and so I had the opportunity to participate in a couple of local Songkran Festivals in California. The Water Festival splashing and spraying was a lot more subdued than what you see in the photos in this article but there were still plenty of children armed with water guns and bottles.

Our own version of the Water Festival/Songkran Festival to honor the Thai New Year did include fruit carving and beautiful Thai dancing. You can see some of the lovely Thai fruit carvings we made for the Songkran Water Festival. You can also see more photos of Thai fruit carvings from another year’s Songkran Water festival.

Water Festival California

Nita with the fruit carving display at the Songkran Festival

If you’d like to see a video of traditional Thai dancing, I have a video of it on my previous blog post: Thai Songkran Festival

And if you’ve never tried fruit carving before and would like to check out an easy technique, feel free to sign up for my free lesson on how to make a simple but lovely radish flowers bouquet.

Thailand’s Water Festival is One of Several Spectacular Festivals Around the World

There are so many wonderful festivals around the world, and I keep having to add to my list of places to visit! I’ve written about a few major festivals on my blog. So go ahead and have a look – I guarantee that you will be amazed at the beauty, artistry and sheer magnitude of work involved in carrying out a major festival:

Lemon Festival in France
Harbin Ice Festival in China

Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan

I hope you enjoyed our short tour to Thailand for the Water Festival. Even if you don’t celebrate a cultural or religious New Year at this time, perhaps the spirit of the season will inspire you to pursue a new goal or adopt a new positive change in your life. And if you’ve ever experienced any major festivals around the world, such as the Water Festival in Thailand, I would love to hear your story!

Learn to carve like a pro

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2 Responses to Water Festival | New Years in Thailand

  1. Nita April 13, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    I got an email this morning from Paula who wrote, “Nita it’s my new year as well.
    I’m Cambodian this weekend is the weekend to celebrate.

    Happy New Year to all our Cambodian friends out there.

  2. paula c. April 13, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    happy new year to all thai and laos friends.

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