Friday, 15 April 2011

Songkran Festival

The Songkran festival (Thai: สงกรานต์, from Sanskrit saṃkrān "astrological passage") is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year's Day from 13 to 15 April. It is also celebrated by the Thais in Malaysia.

Although the traditional calendar of Thailand like most of Southeast Asia utilizes a lunisolar calendar, the date of the new year was calculated on a purely solar basis. The term 
Songkran comes from Sanskrit"Sankranta" and means "a move or change" - in this case the move of the sun into the Aries zodiac. Originally this happened at the vernal equinox, but, as the Thai astrology did not observe precession, the date moved from March to April.





The most obvious celebration of Songkran is the pouring of water. This, however, is not always the main activity of this festival. Songkran is traditionally a time to visit and pay respects to elders, including family members, friends, neighbors, and monks.

Besides the throwing of water, people celebrating Songkran may also go to a wat (Buddhist monastery) to pray and give food to monks. They may also clean Buddha images from household shrines as well as Buddha images at monasteries by gently pouring water mixed with a Thai fragrance (Thai: น้ำอบไทย) over them. It is believed that doing this will bring good luck and prosperity for the New Year.


In many cities, such as Chiang Mai, the Buddha images from all of the city's important monasteries are paraded through the streets so that people can toss water at them, ritually 'bathing' the images, as they pass by on ornately decorated floats. In northern Thailand, people may carry handfuls of sand to their neighborhood monastery in order to recompense the dirt that they have carried away on their feet during the rest of the year. The sand is then sculpted into stupa-shaped piles and decorated with colorful flags.

Some people make New Year resolutions - to refrain from bad behavior, or to do good things. Songkran is a time for cleansing and renewal. Besides washing household Buddha images, many Thais also take this opportunity to give their home a thorough cleaning. The water is a symbol of purity and is sometimes filled with fragrant herbs when celebrated in the traditional manner.



The traditional greeting is "สวัสดีปีใหม่" (sa-wat-di pi mai), basically "Happy New Year". Sawatdi is also used for "hello" or "goodbye". Pi and mai mean "year" and "new" respectively in Thai. Another greeting used is "สุขสันต์วันปีใหม่" (suk-san wan pi mai), where suksanmeans "happy". However, most people use "สุขสันต์วันสงกรานต์" (suk-san wan songkran) — meaning "Happy Songkran Day" — since pi mai is more often linked with the first of January. 

Click on the link below for a Songkran song.
http://www.esnips.com/doc/9453979c-a948-4b51-b9c7-ac8215931c65/songkran

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