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Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Songkran Festival in Chiangmai

The Songkran Festival in Chiangmai

Songkran today is still the most important of all the Thai festivals and holidays. It marks the beginning of a new astrological year and is much in keeping with the old lunar calendar of Siam. It is officially celebrated this year on April 12, but the festival actually takes place over a period of four days. It includes the 'Troot Festival' discussed above as well as all the merit-making at Buddhist temples and the ultimate Songkran, or The Pouring of Water ritual, by which we have come to identify Songkran with today. Each year, the four-day celebration of Songkran consists of many activities, and these are briefly explained below.

April 12 is Wan Sungkharn Lohng. This is a day for house cleaning and general preparation for the New Year. In the evening it is traditional for Thais to dress up as a signal of the coming new year. In Chiangmai, the Songkran procession is held on this day. This is a parade through Chiangmai comprised of Buddha images and attendants on floats, which are accompanied by minstrels and the town's people. The procession begins at Nawarat Bridge on the Mae Ping River and moves the Thapae Gate before approaching its final destination of Wat Prasingh.

April 13 is Wan Nao. On this day people prepare cooked meals and preserved food for the Buddhist merit-making that takes place on the following day. Activities at Wat Prasingh continue on this day and in the evening local residents go to the banks of the Mae Ping River and gather sand to be deposited in piles topped by flowers in the temples. This practice is the ancient "raising the temple grounds" ritual which was necessary in the old days because then Thai New Year was held at the end of the rainy season in the first month of the old Thai Lunar Calendar.

April 14 is Wan Payawan. On this day a grand new year begins with early morning merit-making at the temples. Preserved and cooked foods, fresh fruit, monks' robes and other offerings are made at the temples. In the home, people do the final cleaning of Buddha images using scented water. Traditionally this is the day that the pouring of water begins. It was once the practice to pour gently, but the fun-loving Thais have transposed this into a relative water free-for-all.

April 15 is Wan Parg-bpee. On this day homage is paid to ancestors, elders and other persons deserving respect because of age of position. This is called 'Rohd Nam Songkran', meaning 'The Pouring of Songkran Water', and the water is sprinkled on the elder persons while uttering wishes of good luck and a happy future. In Chiangmai, this is the final day of the celebration and the day on which people have built up to a crescendo of water throwing. It is the day when all family and religious obligations have been completed and the people are totally dedicated to "Sanook...Sanook."

Songkran Festival in Bangkok

Songkran Festival in Bangkok
Date : 10 - 15 April, 2009
Venue : At The 9 Sacred Places and Rattanakosin Square, Bangkok

Experience the demonstration of the Songkran Festival in 4 regions at Wat Pho as well as enjoy demonstrstions of Thai food and local desserts, feast your eyes on cultural performances.
Moreover, in the Songkran Festival, TAT would like to invite you to dress Thai attire, visit and participate in the event of "the 9 Sacred Places ". the 9 royal temples in the Rattanakosin Square. To experience the wonderful treasure and enjoy the Songkran Festival in authentic Thai syle.

Wat Phra Kaeo
Motto : Endless Wealth and ProsperityVisit Wat Phra Kaeo and pay homage to the Emerald Buddha as well as experience the wonderful Royal Palace.

Wat Pho
Motto : Calmness is HappinessExperince the demonstration of Songkran Festival in 4 regions, enjoy folk plays Thai food and local dessert. Pour some Thai scented water on a Buddha image.
Wat BowonniwetMotto : Receive the Good Things in LifeFeaturing Songkran Festival in Central Region, pour some Thai scented water on Buddha image and monks, splash cooling water with elephants and experience ancient Thai bazaar.
Wat SaketMotto : Create Auspicious VisionPour some Thai scented water on Buddha relics, Buddha image and monks. Create a sand pagoda and splash!

Wat Suthat
Motto : Enlarge Your Visions and Charm the PeopleExperience Songkran Festival in Southern style, and its rituals, pour some Thai scented water on a Buddha image and monks as well as enjoy cultural performances.

Wat Chanasongkram
Motto : Conquer All ObstaclesFeaturing Songkran Festival in the Raman style, feast your eyes on the demonstation of Raman culture and hoe to play Songkran in its way. Pour some Thai scented water on a Buddha image, and monks as well.

Wat Kanlayanamit
Motto : Bon Voyage and Have Good CompanyLet's enjoy Songkran along the river, pour some Thai scented water on Buddha image and monks, and experience cultural performances.
Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
Motto : Have a Prosperous LifeFeaturing Songkran at Bangkok, pour some Thai scented water on Buddha image and monks, and enjoy various forms of entertainment.

Wat Rakhang
Motto : To Be Admired and LovedOffering alms to monks, pour some Thai scented water on a Buddha image and monks and experience cultural performances.

Songkran at Sanam Luang, Suan Santi Chai Prakhan (Phra Sumeru Fortress) Bang Lumphu Square and Khaosan Road.
Date : 11 - 15 April 2009 Featuring the Light and Sound Presentation at Sanum Luang, the Beauty Pageant, Miss Songkran Wisut Krasat and Miss Songkran International on Khaosan Road.
11 April, 2009
08.30 hrs. - Featuring the Buddha image procession from Wisut Krasat Junction to Suan Santi Chai Prakhan. (Phra Sumeru Fortress)

12 April, 2009
07.00 hrs. - Experience the procession of Phra Phuttha Sihing from National Museum to Sanam Luang.
10.00 hrs. - Featuring the Buddha image Procession from Wat Bawonniwet to Suan Santi Chai Prakhan (Phra Sueru Fortress) and pour some Thai scented water on a Buddha image.

13 April, 2009
07.00 hrs. - Experience the wonderful procession of Buddha image and beautiful float in Bang Lamphu Square.

For more information :Bangkok Tourist Division, Tel. 0 2225 7612-4TAT CAll Center 1672 http://www.songkran.net/

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