Songkran (Thai New year)
If you like a New Year's party, Thailand is the place for you. Samui's people are blessed with no less than three annual opportunities to ring in a new year with their European friends on January 1st, with their Chinese friends in early February, and on April 13, which has for centuries marked the first day of of the traditional Thai solar calendar. This last celebration is called Songkran, and it is one of the most joyous occasions in The Kingdom.
The word Songkran comes from the Sanskrit words for "New Year", and the Thai celebration was probably imported with major aspects of Indian culture over 2,500 years ago.
Songkran in Thailand is a holiday primarily dedicated to the family, and tourists may notice a much slimmer staff manning the restaurants and hotels as every employee who is able goes home to spend the day with his or her relatives.
Back in the provinces huge meals are pre-pared, homes are fastidiously cleaned, and sacred altars and images respectfully washed. Family members who are scattered for the rest of the year by employment or marriage come together to renew their bonds and exchange gossip. Perhaps the most lovely rite associated with Songkran is the wai khon gaa ceremony, where whole neighborhoods will line up to pour water over the hands of the community's two oldest members, giving and receiving blessings for the coming year.
Unfortunately, because over 90% of the Thai people on Samui are originally from other provinces, it is not easy to find these ancient and moving ceremonies here. The most common manifestation of Songkran to be seen on Samui is the practice of sat nam, which means gaining control of large quantities of water, preferably chilled to just below freezing, and an advantageous spot from which to surprise and drench passing unwary pedestrians.
On April 13 every year the streets of every town and village on the island are lined with giggling teenagers armed with and arsenal of water guns, buckets. barrels , dippers, hoses and all manner of delivery vehicle with which to launch their often icy-cold liquid missiles. Only police officers in uniform are immune to attack; everyone else is expected to take their punishment with good humor. It is not uncommon to enter the post office, bank or some other place of business and be greeted by a smiling clerk wearing a sopping wet shirt and tie.
While we may be able to trace the source of the holiday itself, nobody knows for sure why Thai people delight in dousing each other in cold water on Songkran day, or why it is apparently even more fun to douse strangers, especially foreign strangers. What is obvious is that the practice of throwing water around on one of the hottest days of the year releases tensions, cooling the head along with the body. And during this day a visitor has only two choices, 1) hide in his room or 2)join in the fun and sling a little water of his own.
Loy Krathong (Light festival) Loy Krathong : have floats, will dazzle
Thailand's waterways rivers, klongs, even hotel swimming pools will be ablaze with dazing lights on an evening in November when the Kingdom celebrates "Loy Krathong", one of the year's most-awaited festivals. The annual festival, also celebrated in other neighboring countries, is held on the full moon day of the 12th lunar month. Thais place great importance in this event and while the best celebrations are said to be held in Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Sukhothai and Chiangmai, the event is marked with great funfair all over the Kingdom. The festival is believed to have its beginnings, at least in Thailand, in Sukhothai Province, north of Bangkok, almost 800 years ago. A stone inscription from the Sukhothai Period describes an ancient Loy Krathong festival : "There are four main gates in the city of Sukhothai. On festive occasions, people jam the city to witness the light festival in progress. It's as if the city would burst."
When the ancient Sukhothai city was restored to its former splendor as the Historical Park of Sukhothai, efforts were made to bring back ancient festivals and their legendary festive atmosphere. This brought back the light festival of Loy Krathong. It has remained a major attraction since. "Loy" means to float, and "krathong" means a leaf cup. This moniker seems apt as most floating objects you see during Loy Krathong nights are flowers formed like cups, if not artificial petals that look like cups in many angles.
It is a most colorful festival. In most areas where it is celebrated, you will see Thai women resplendent in colorful attire, hair festooned with flowers, and gaily-dressed men, also fully garbed, gather with floats in their hands wherever there's water.
As the krathongs meander while making their way downstream, you'll often see little boys swim to them to retrieve the tiny cargo of coins before releasing them down the "river of no return".
Explanation of the festival's significance vary. One belief is that as the floats embark on their journey, they take with it the owner's misfortunes. Most Thais also believe the floating of the krathong is a yearly sloughing off of all the sins and calamities that have befallen a person.
On a lighter note, it's also believed that lovers can forecast the fortune of their romance by watching their krathong float downstream to gather.
Krathongs that remain together into the darkness, promise life-long partnership. This custom's religious significance is somewhat debatable, though. Some say Loy Krathong is an act of remission to the goddess Mae Khongkha, the mother of water.
Western psychologists say it symbolizes the egg's prenatal consciousness of its journey of the ovary down the fallopian tube to conception, a legend (for explanation) quite common to Eastern and Western cultures. The Biblical story of Moses in the Bulrushes is similar.
Whatever its significance, you shouldn't fail to watch or join in a Loy Krathong festival for a once in a life time experience. Check out the hotels or your travel agent for a schedule.
|Loy Krathong Song
Wan Pen Duan Sip Song
Nam Koh Nong Tem Taling
Rao Tanglai Shai Ying
Sanuk Ganjing Wan Loy Krathong
Loy Loy Krathong
Loy Loy Kratong,
Loy Krathong Gan Laew
Koh Shern Nong Kaew
Ook Ma Ram Wong
Ram Wong Wan Loy Krathong
Ram Wong Wan Loy Krathong
Boon Ja Song Hai Rao Suk Jai
Boon Ja Song Hai Rao Suk Jai
November full moon shine
And the water high
In the gold river and the Klong
Loy Loy Krathong
Loy Loy Krathong
Loy Krathong is here
And everybody full of cheer
We're together at the Klong
Each one with his Krathong
As we push away we pray,
We can see a better day
The New Year's Day
The International New Year Day has been
adopted. On the first of January, people offer food to monks at the temple
or at a particular site designated by government offices of private
organizations. In Bangkok, the Phramaane ground and the lawn in front of
the district offices are popular places.
The Traditional New Year Celebration
This is also called "Trut" celebration.
Trut means "to be cut" or "to end". So this simply indicates that a year
has come to the end, according to the lunar calendar adopted from the
Indians. The ceremony covers the last two days of the old year and the
first day of the new year. The ceremony began during the Sukhothai period
and lasted until the reign of King Rama V. Later, it was combined with the
Songkran festival. Trut is celebrated separately only in some rural
The "Sart" Festival
is derived from an Indian word meaning autumn or the fall season. It falls
on the end of the tenth lunar month. In India this is the time for the
harvesting of grains and fruit and thus a time to rejoice. Originally,
this was a Brahministic festival but now it is celebrated in the Buddhist
wat, i.e., the main activity involves the making of merit to monks.
Ceremonies organized by the government
These are ceremonies which are organized jointly by the government and the Office of the Royal Household according to tradition which has been passed on through generations.
Festivals & Public Holidays (Overview)
New Year's Day
Celebrations for the start of the new year
On the second Saturday in January every year, there is a special celebration for children. Many places let children go in free or half price on this day.
On the 16th January every year, all of the schools in Thailand are closed for the day as a special tribute to the teachers.
Makha Buchaa Day
The full moon of the third lunar month marks the occasion when 1250 of the Buddha's disciples came to hear him preach. This day is a public holiday.
|28||February||Chinese New Year|
|2||April||HRH The Princess's Birthday|
A public holiday, commemorating King Rama I who was the first of the Chakri kings.
During April 13-15, everyone celebrates the traditional Thai new year. In every home, Buddha images are washed with rose scented water. People also pay respects to their elders by pouring a little water over their hands. Outside, people go a little wilder and buckets of water are thrown over everything that moves.
|1||May||National Labor Day
A holiday for some factory and office workers.
A public holiday to commemorate the coronation of the king and queen in 1946.
An important ceremony to mark the official start of the rice-planting season.
Visakha Bucha Day
The full moon of the sixth lunar month is the most important date on the Buddhist religious calendar. It celebrates the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death. Every year on this day, teachers from our school take part in a candle-lit procession around the main chapel of a local temple. They carry with them flowers, three incense sticks and a lighted candle. They walk around the chapel three times in a clock-wise direction. Afterwards they listen to a sermon from a monk. This day is also a public holiday.
|19||July||Khao Phansa Day
|28||July||HRH The Crown Prince's Birthday|
HM The Queen's Birthday
Celebrations for the Queen's birthday. This day is also Mother's Day and a public holiday.
A public holiday, on 23rd October,to commemorate King Rama V who did a lot of important things for Thailand. His many accomplishments include the abolition of slavery, the construction of the railways, the establishment of the post and telegraph services and the creation of the ministerial system.
The most picturesque of the Thai festivals is held on the full-moon of the 12th lunar month. Little candle-lit krathongs are launched onto the water as an offering to Mother Water. People apologize for polluting the water and promise to do better in the future.
HM The King's Birthday
Celebrations for the King's birthday. This day is also Father's Day and a public holiday.
A public holiday to commemorate the start of the constitutional monarchy in1932.
New Year's Eve
Celebrations to welcome the start of the new year.
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