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Songkran, traditional Thai New Year

Songkran (from the Sanskrit samkranti: the moving to, the passage or entry into) is the moving of a planet or the sun from one position in the sky to another. The passage of the sun into the zodiac sign Aries is celebrated as the Songkran Festival.

In the past Songkran marked the start of the year in Thailand, but since 1940 the year also begins at Januari 1, and Songkran is celebrated as the ‘traditional’ Thai New Year, an official holliday on April 13 to April 15.

The typical greeting on Songkran is "sawatdee pi mai” (สวัสดีปีใหม่), basically translated as “Happy New Year”. Because pi mai is rather associated with Januari 1, “suksanwan songkran” (สุขสันต์วันสงกรานต์) is said too, literally “Happy Songkran Day”.

Water festival

The traditional use of water on Songkran has originally social and spiritual aspects. The sprinkling with water is a form of paying respect or blessing. The festival period is is coupled with feast in the familie circle and paying respect to elders and familie members.

Water is a symbol for cleaning and renewal. The home is given a thorough cleaning. People make new resolutions concerning their (good and bad) behavior for the new year. In the temples the Buddha statues are washed and honoured.

Nowadays, the emphasis is often placed on making fun with water fights and splashing water to people on vehicles.

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