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Songkran - a Festival Soaked in Tradition

The Songkran festival marks the ancient Thai New Year’s Day and used to take place on the 15th full moon. Today the festival is celebrated for three days starting on the 13th of April with the official New Year’s Day moved to the 1st of January.
 
The first day is a day of cleaning during which Thais clean their homes, bodies, and soul, which symbolizes the washing away of sins in preparation for the New Year. Traditionally Thais will visit their families and pour scented water into the palms of their elders. As a sign of gratitude, the elders will say good wishes and give words of blessings. Some families would also visit temples to give alms to monks and listen to the Dharma (Buddhist teachings).
 
On the second day, Thais carry sand to the temples and build small pagodas. In ancient times, whenever a person visited and left a temple, sand would stick onto the soles of their feet. Since the temple is considered sacred ground, the carrying of sand back to the temple is seen as returning what they took. Some families donate flags as well as it is believed that it would draw further merit. 
 
The final day is dedicated to donating to the temples, and closes with Thais splashing water on each other. Although many of these traditions are still maintained, the most celebrated and anticipated part of the festival for foreigners and Thais alike is the splashing which typically breaks out into water gun fights.  
 
Nowadays, the water gun fights start from the very beginning of the festival and takes place all over the country. Kids ride on pickup trucks with buckets of water and many along the street use high-pressured water guns to spray at pedestrians and passing cars. Some of the most popular places are Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket, and Bangkok. 
 
 

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