Date 05/09/2015

Songkran Festival


According to the old tradition, Songkran day marks the inauguration of a New Year. But more important, it brings about reunion of families which have been deprived of their warmth and completeness by social and professional obligations. On this day, members of family gather and make merit at the near-by Wat or temple. The celebration of Songkran festival in Chiang Mai is so famous for its dazzling and eventful atmosphere among both the Thai and foreigners that it has been said

 

"never experiencing it is a waste if life time”. The glittering sand chedi reflects a remarkable atmosphere of Songkran festival. It has been believed that to carry sand into a Wat is as much merit acquiring as the indefinite amount of the sand itself. This tradition is derived from a myth about Lord Buddha that prior to his birth as Buddha, although He had been born miserably poor, He possessed the heart of gold and was always determined to make merit. Thus He carried sand into a Wat and build a sand Chedi near a stream. He then tore his shirt as a flag pinning down upon it and made a wish that in his next incarnation may he be born as a Buddha. The tradition is annually performed on the day called "Nau” meaning "rotten” or the second day of the Great Songkran festival dated 14 April. On this day, if one swears profane words, his or her mouth will be rotten according to the very title of the day. On the 15 April, members of family gather and visit their respected elder to ask for blessing. Then they sprinkle perfumed water to Pra Buddha Sihing, the most respected Buddha image in Lanna which is invited from Wat Pra Sing. The sacred Buddha image is paraded along major roads in Chiang Mai to be worshipped by people. The parade is livened up by a mood of festivities. However, the most looking-forward part of the festival is water splashing taking place throughout the city as a promotion of social bonds.

 

Aside from its high-spirited frivolity, the celebration of Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year, has deeply religious elements. Shown on these page is the ceremony that take place in Buddhist temples in the north, the ritual bathing of Buddha images. Songkran is an annual festival of cleansing and renewal in which water, the most ancient symbol of life, plays a major role.




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