If you go out on the street, you’re going to get wet. The splashes come from every direction while the smiles come from deep inside. The Songkran water festival is a celebration of the Thai New Year, and this year marks 2551 in the Buddhist calendar. Thailand is bathed with scorching tropical sun and heat in the middle of the dry season. Everyone understands that the rains will return eventually, so until then, water buckets and cupped hands suffice for monsoon thunder and rain. Tradition was a calm, respectful pouring of water on the shoulder, smearing of clay on the cheeks, smiles, bows, and thanks.
Water, water, everywhere!
In Chiang Mai, western influence and “kids these days” have escalated the festival into a party that rivals Burning Man, knocks the Full Moon Party into the water, and makes Cancun during spring break feel like an afternoon with your grandma. I’ve seen two gallons of water from a stranger smack someone unexpectedly in the side of the head and then an exchange of the most endearing smiles and laughter between the two. I’ve received high pressure squirt gun blasts in the face, seen buckets overturned, water hurled, and flip-flop feet dancing in the flooded streets. Sometimes warm, sometimes shockingly cold, the water is everywhere. The most amazing aspect of the celebration is the laughter, smiles, and good feeling that is described in the Thai language as sanuk dee. It could be this week of drenching water play refreshes the feeling of the dry season in the same way the quick and intense monsoon rains are daily refreshing in the hot days of the wet season. A wonderful example of the joy of Thai culture, Songkran can only be experienced and will surely splash your heart and happiness.