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Water-splashing out of S'pore Songkran event, call meet with Thai embassy

The organisers of "Celebrate Songkran 2014" in Singapore will convene today with the Thai Embassy and the Tourism Authority of Thailand's Singapore office on their participation in this event after deciding to celebrate the festival without water-splashing.

"We will also be hoping to work with the Thai Embassy, as well as the Tourism Authority of Thailand, to incorporate more traditional and heritage elements of Thai Songkran into the event," T J Chin, event producer and director of Celebrate Songkran 2014, said yesterday in an official statement. He also confirmed to The Nation that he would meet with Ambassador Marut Jitpatima and the TAT Singapore director today about the event.

It appears that the discussion between the two sides will be about new activities for the event, which has been heavily criticised by both Singaporeans and Thais for more than a week. Singaporeans have complained that the city-state had experienced the longest dry spell in years, and there have been numerous calls to save precious water. Meanwhile, a number of Thais have urged that their cultural heritage should be protected.

After these incidents, the event's co-organisers JBozz Consultants and TJ Eventz decided to remove water-splashing activities from Celebrate Songkran 2014.

Derived from Sanskrit

Chin acknowledged that "Songkran" was a term derived from Sanskrit. It is also commonly known as the traditional New Year celebrated in Thailand and several Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, among others. The festival had also been observed as a symbol of hospitality, love and the importance of maintaining strong relationships within families, communities and society as a whole.

With water-splashing activities removed, the event organisers aim to enlarge the carnival area, and include more rides, games and activities to make the event equally, if not more, fun-filled for all attendees.

"We are confident that removing water-splashing activities from the event will not remove the true meaning of Songkran. We hope to … educate more people about the true meaning of Songkran. We never wanted to be a replacement [to the festivities in Thailand]. We are an alternative - to be a venue for people who cannot be where they wish to be during this festive period," Chin said.

Kanokkittika Kritwutikon, director of the TAT's Singapore office, said the authority was currently promoting authentic Thai Songkran festivals in 13 key destinations in Thailand and hoped that international travellers in Singapore would still come and visit Thai culture.

The event organisers said in the Singaporean statement that they had taken the initiative and consulted with the island republic's Public Utilities Board (PUB), exploring how they could be part of the national water-conservation effort. After extensive discussions, the companies had decided to remove activities that would lead to water wastage. They would also host a "Water Conservation and Water Heritage Exhibition" jointly with the PUB.


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