Rituals and celebrations

event April 02, 2018 16:00

By The Nation

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With Songkran Day less than two weeks away, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has announced that it is supporting 12 major tourist destinations around the Kingdom and five emerging secondary destinations for their unique traditions.

The programme has been dubbed “Grand Songkran Celebrations” and is part of Amazing Thailand’s “Open to the New Shades” marketing concept.

“Songkran is one of Thailand’s most important festivals. It is a time when families celebrate with centuries-old traditions, returning to their family homes for three to five days of making merit and water splashing ceremonies, which evokes sins being washed away with scented water.

“The main activity is pouring this scented water on sacred Buddha images of local temples in a ritual called Song Nam Phra. Lustral water used to clean Buddhist statues has been regarded as a form of spiritual cleansing since ancient times. It is collected and then gently dripped over the hands of senior family members for luck in a ritual called Rot Nam Dam Hua,” TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said during a recent press conference.

The 12 major destinations are Samut Prakan, Ayutthaya, Suphan Buri, Chon Buri, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Nakhon Phanom, Nong Khai, Khon Kaen, Phuket, and Songkhla. Festivities and event dates varying, with some starting as early as April 7 and running until April 20.

The five emerging secondary destinations are Sing Buri, Chanthaburi, Kamphaeng Phet, Kalasin, and Nakhon Si Thammarat, all of which continue with nostalgic time-honoured rituals that get underway between April 11 and 17.

In Sing Buri, the celebration is centred on the ancient Ban Bang Rachan, an important settlement during the Ayutthaya period. Chanthaburi’s Wat Tapon Noi and Wat Kwien Hak annually hold a unique procession of decorated ox-carts parading sacred cloth of the Buddha to warn off bad luck.

In Kamphaeng Phet, where retro-traditions for Songkran are held along the Ping River, there is another Buddha image wrapping procession. The Phrae Wa silk city and dinosaur excavation sites in Kalasin are prominently featured as time-honoured symbols of the Songkran tradition.

In Nakhon Si Thammarat, the religious element of the celebrations takes on a distinctly Hindu feel, with Brahmin ceremonies and rituals as well as the must-attend Nang Dan parade.

For more details of Songkran activities in various locations throughout Thailand, call the TAT Contact Centre 1672 or visit the TAT Contact Centre website.