Posts Tagged ‘songkran’

Songkran – The Water Festival

Written by admin on January 7th, 2014. Posted in Thailand Traditional Festivals

Throughout the kingdom, Thais, expatriate residents and foreign visitors joined Songkran (traditional Thai New Year) celebrations held nationwide from 13 to 15 April every year. Good-natured fun permeated the holiday season. Across the country, it was a time for religious ceremonies and merit-making; for laughter, entertainment and good times shared with family and friends; and, of course, for water splashing — lots of it.

While better known for its good-spirited water-splashing, meaningful aspects of this time-honoured tradition are still observed in their original form.

SongKarn‘Songkran’, a word of Sanskrit origin, translates as ‘move into’; Songkran marks the end of a 12-month cycle and the beginning of a new solar year. The underlying significance of Songkran is the process of cleansing and purification — the purging of all ills, misfortune and evil, and starting the New Year afresh with everything that is good and pure. Water is symbolic of the cleaning process and signifies purity.

 
Songkran is also a time for reunions when family ties are renewed. Family members and friends come together to celebrate Songkran. Religious ceremonies and folk rituals associated with Songkran are principally performed to bring good luck and prosperity.

The meaningful aspects of Songkran expressed through various ceremonies and rituals are varied and culturally rich. Songkran activities in various locations around the kingdom uniquely reflect local beliefs and practices. Each offers varying elements of interest.

Ceremonies performed on April 13, the first day of Songkran, mark the end of an era. To ‘send off’ the outgoing year, merit-making rituals are performed and offerings are made to Buddhist monks. Spring-cleaning and personal cleansing are also part of this ‘renewal’ process. Later in the day, Buddha images are bathed with scented lustral water as gestures of respect. Religious ceremonies include a procession of Buddha images through city streets, affording local residents the opportunity to participate in the bathing rites. An annual ‘Songkran Queen’ parade and floral floats form part of popular festivities staged to greet the traditional Thai New Year.

ParadeSongkran is also a time for thanksgiving. Individuals reflect upon the many acts of kindness and thoughtfulness each has personally experienced and reciprocate by expressing gratitude. Thanksgiving is demonstrated in ceremonial aspects such as Songkran’s bathing ritual when scented lustral water is poured over Buddha statues and the hands of elders and respected individuals.

The ritual that accompanies this show of respect is highly elaborate. Deep respect and reverence are shown to the highest institution of the Kingdom — the monarchy and members of the royal family — as well as learned individuals and elders recognised for their worldly experience and wisdom. This gesture of respect includes a colourful procession characterised by song, dance and festive fun. Younger folks show their respect and seek the blessings of elders and individuals of seniority by making offerings. The seeking of their blessing or forgiveness for past wrong-doing is also implied.

Acts of kindness and generosity towards others are reflected in the preparation, exchange and sharing of food and desserts by members of the community. Sprinkling water on each other is a gesture of hospitality as individuals attempt to cool each other off in the intense summer heat.

 

 

Community spirit is reflected in activities such as the spring-cleaning of temples, the presentation of merit-making offerings to monks, bathing rituals during which Buddha statues are bathed with scented lustral water or poured over the hands of monks, the construction of sand stupas and the decoration or beautification of temple environs. It is also believed that through acts of merit-making, loved ones, long-departed, are endowed with blessings and good fortune. Members of the family and community share in the fun, spreading happiness and goodwill to all.

RatchadamnernThe ceremonial and ritual aspects of Songkran concluded, friendly water-splashing ensues. After dark, celebrations feature various performances and forms of entertainment. The ‘ram wong’ circle dance, a traditional Thai folk dance, enables everyone to join in the fun.

Songkran embodies the essential caring and unity at the core of Thai society. These are the enduring qualities that make Thailand forever a warm and welcoming destination.

Bangkok: Local Festivals

Written by admin on January 5th, 2014. Posted in Bangkok

H.M. The King’s Birthday Celebrations   


December 5 , Nationwide

H.M. The king's Birthday CelebrationsH.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest reigning monarch, is well beloved and deeply repected by all Thais old and young. The occasion of his royal birthday provides his loyal subjects the opportunity to express their reverence for him. All over the country, buildings and homes are elaborated and the area around the Grand Palace is spectacularly illuminated. 

 

 

H.M.The Queen’s Birthday Celebration

 August 12 , Nationwide

H.M.The Queen's Birthday Celebration\To display their loyalty and to honour Her Majesty Queen Sirikit on the occasion of her royal birthday, the Thai people decorate their houses and public buildings. Around Bangkok, Ratchadamnoen Avenue, the area around the Grand Palace and other well-known locations are bedecked with coloured lights and magnificent adorntments. 

 

 

 

 

Loi Krathong   

Loi KrathongIt is an impressive and fascinating festival observed in all parts of the country on the full moon night of the 12th lunar month, when the moon is in its splendor and water in all rivers and streams are full. It is intended primarily as an act of atonement to Mother River. Small receptacles made of banana leaves fashioned in the shape of lotus containing incense and candles, flowers and money are floated as a gesture of expiation. In Bangkok the festival is celebrated along the Chao Phraya River and canals. Hotels on the bank of the river also hold special events. 

 

Bangkok Songkran Festival  

 April 12-14 , Sanam Luang and citywide, Bangkok

Bangkok Songkran Festival The traditional Thai New Year is an occasion for merriment all over the city, but most notably at Sanam Luang, near the Grand Palace, where the revered Phra Buddha Sihing image is displayed and bathed by devotees. In the Wisutkasat area, a Miss Songkran beauty contest is held and accompanied by merit-making and entertainment. Khao San Road, Bang Lamphu area is also one of the high-spots in the city to experience the water-throwing activities between locals and tourists – of course, all in good fun !! 

 

 

Trooping Of The Colours  

December , The Royal Plaza, Bangkok

Their Majesties the King and Queen preside over this impressive annual event, held in the Royal Plaza near the equestrian statue of King Chulalongkorn. Dressed in colourful uniforms, amid much pomp and ceremony, members of the elite Royal Guards swear allegiance to the King and march past members of the Royal Family. 

Magha Puja   

This important Buddhist holy day marks the auspicious occasion when 1,250 of Lord Buddha’s aherents spontaneously congregated to hear him give a sermon. Merit-making ceremonies are held during the day at temples throughout the country, while at night, triple candlelit cireumambulation are staged around major temples. 

New Year Celebrations

January 1 , Nationwide

To welcome in the New Year, a range of uniquely Thai traditional and cultural festivities that begin with early morning Buddhist merit making, and afternoon and evening folk entertainment are conducted in various parts of the country. 

Asalha Puja

The full-moon day of the eighth lunar month marks the preaching of Lord Buddha’s first sermon to his first five disciples after attaining Enlightenment more than 2,500 years ago. In the evening, candlelit processions take place in Buddhist temples around the country. 

 
Khao Phansa (Buddhist Lent)  

This day marks the commencement of the Buddhist Lent or Phansa during which monks must reside inside their temples to study and meditate. This is also the most auspicious time for Buddhist ordinations since it marks a period of renewed spiritual vigour. 

Visakha Puja 

Visakha Puja \This is the holiest of all the auspicious Buddhist religious days, marking the birth, enlightenment, and death of Lord Buddha. All over the country, people go to temples to listen to sermons by revered monks and make merit. Shortly after sunset. candlelit circumambulations take place around major temples. 

 

 

Royal Ploughing Ceremony 

 May 11 , Sanam Luang, Bangkok

Royal Ploughing Ceremony\An ancient Brahman ritual, conducted at Sanam Luang, in which farmers believe is able to forecast the abundance of the next rice crop. The event is a result of a series of ceremonies that are conducted by Phraya Raek Na, portrayed by a high-ranking official from the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives who wears colourful traditional costumes. This ceremony was re-introduced in 1960 by H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej and is considered the official commencement of the rice-growing season. 

Thai Beer Festival  

November – Junuary , Citywide, Bangkok

Every year, the various Thai breweries get together to conduct a Thai Beer Festival, which highlights sales of barbecued food, exotic Thai cuisine and of course beer. To add to this atmosphere of merriment, there are music and cultural performances for everyone to enjoy. Tourists can see this event, especially at the World Trade Centre and other locations around the city.