As you probably know, Thailand is a Buddhist country, with only a tiny 1% being Christian. Easter isn’t ignored though and you will certainly find gifts and eggs in the bigger stores (and even the odd Easter bunny hopping around!). However, Easter in Thailand often falls around one of our own favourite festivals – Songkran, which is our Thai New Year!
April is the hottest month of the year in Thailand, and Songkran is often seen as a great excuse to go completely mad and have lots of fun! We have huge water fights and street parties that often go on all week! Most places close down for Songkran and the larger cities empty as everyone travels home.
Songkran is the festival for family reunions, temple visits and annual house cleaning. Many Thais observe the holidays by spending time with families and friends and by performing religious rites such as ‘Bathing the Buddha image’. Buddhists pour fragrant water over Buddha statues both at the temple and at home. The more religious will perform similar celebrations the whole festival.
There are lots of traditions to be celebrated during Songkran (13th – 15th April officially, but often celebrated all week!) On the first day we perform the Rod Nam Dum Hua ritual which is officially known as National Elderly Day. During the ritual, young people pour fragrant water into the elders’ palms as a gesture of humility and ask for their blessings for the year ahead.
The second day of Songkran is officially the National Family Day. Everyone wakes up early and goes to give alms to the local monks and then try to spend the rest of the day enjoying each others company – of course, delicious food is an important part of our celebrations!
Larb Gai is a very popular dish eaten during the Songkran Festival. It is served with sticky rice, cucumber, green beans and chicken wings – this meal is associated with good luck, which is a very important aspect of Songkran.