There are various ways people celebrate the advent of New Year. The most interesting ones are the celebrations of the traditional New Year.
The Thai people celebrate their traditional New Year with great gusto and lot of uniqueness. The Thai people celebrate Songkran or their new year with a lot of fun and frolic.
Date – The Thai New Year or the Songkran in 2017 will be celebrated on the April 13th, Thursday.
Calculations based on Astrology: The traditional Thai New Year celebrations can be traced back to really ancient times, since centuries back. Researchers have proved that etymolo0gically it can be traced back to the Hindu methodology of calculating Sankranti.
Sankranti actually marks the transit of Sun. Sankranti literally means the movement of the sun and thus Songkran too signifies the movement of the sun. the influence of sankranti in the Thai history can be traced back to Rajendra Chola of the Chola dynasty who ruled Thailand from 1012-1044 CE.
Thus it is of little surprise that the Songkran coincides with the Tamil celebration of Puthandu , the Tamil New Year. However the dates for the Songkran have now been fixed in Thailand, and in case it falls on a week end then the preceding day is a declared National holiday.
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History of Songkran – The origin of the Songkran festival can be dated back to various ancients folklores and legends. According to ancient legends, there was a God in the name of Kabilla Phrom and who was fond of betting. Kabilla Phrom once heard of a little boy of seven years who was supposed to be able to recite ancient scriptures.
This boy was called Thammabal Kumara. Now the God wanted to test the boys knowledge and thus he came down to earth. He challenged the small boy with three questions in the form of riddles. He asked the little boy where the aura of a person rested in the morning, noon and night. The boy had 6 days to think and answer, but the condition was that whoever failed, would give his head to the winner.
The little boy kept thinling hard but could not come up with plausible solutions and was sitting under a tree one day when he overheard couple of wise eagles discussing that they will be eating the head of Thammabal Kumara in some time. The eagles also discussed the answers amongst themselves and which the boy heard.
Upon the sixth day when Kabilla Phrom met him he answered that a person’s aura in the morning rests in his face, on his chest in the afternoon and on his feet at night and thus the reason why one washes face in the morning, sprinkles perfume on chest in the afternoon and washes feet at night. Kabilla Phrom lost the bet and was ready to cut off his head but there were problems in that. So the 7 daughters of God placed his head on a tray and carried it to mount Sumeru.
Traditions and rituals: Preparations of celebrating the Songkran begins sometimes back. People clean their homes thoroughly before ushering in the New Year. The Thai people are of the opinion that New Year is a time when new beginnings are made and one turns in a new direction. Thus homes, office premises, statues of Buddha, alters are all cleansed thoroughly. People sprinkle this water on family members head considering this to be holy. Songkran believes on spiritual cleansing and entails giving alms to the needy and to the Monks.
The New Year ’s Day celebrations involve a lot of fun and traditional merriment. Wan Nao rituals involve people visiting and paying homage in the shrines. People seek blessings from the monks. People also make resolutions to avoid making earlier mistakes and stay in virtuous paths.
Modern Day Festivities of Sonkran: the modern day festivities in Songkran involve organizing for a beauty pageant in Songkran. This has gained immense popularity as the winner is decided on public voting. There is another major fun filled activity done on this day which is having a water fight. Armed with water guns and buckets of water, everyone throws water on everyone else. This water fight too is a take from the meaning of the festival- cleansing of oneself. The administration of Thailand remains on alert on this auspicious day to avoid any kind of mishap.
Greetings of Songkran – during this festival people wish each other in their traditional language only. Happy New Year in Thai language would be Sawasdee Pee Mai”. Sawasdee loosely means a hello or a Hi or even can mean goodbye. Another one could be “Suk San Wan Pee Mai” meaning happiness all around. Another popular greeting is — Suk San Wan Sonkran” which literally goes on to mean — “Happy New Year’s (Sonkran) Day”.