The Songkran Water Festival for Thai New Year
Originally the start date of the Thai New Year Songkran Festival was calculated by Buddhist monks so could vary, but it’s now set as 13th April each year.
Just like in China, each Thai year has an animal associated with it, so 2018 ia a dog year and 2019 a pig year. Each animal is believed to have a different set of characteristics which are either favourable or unfavourable. The symbolism helps the people of Thailand to plan their personal and working lives for the year ahead.
Traditionally Thai New Year is a time for offering prayers in the temples and also for washing home shrines and Buddha statues. Water that has washed sacred items is believed to be holy, so splashing friends, family and strangers with it is seen as a blessing. Youngsters will also pour water over the hands of their elders in homage to their ancestors. The actual act of cleaning these icons is also believed to bring good luck, health and prosperity for the year ahead.
Another traditional activity is for monks to draw sacred chalk marks on people’s faces to help them begin the year with a fresh new start.