Published: April 17th 2010April 14th 2010
The good thing about Thailand is that they celebrate three New Year Festivals
The Western New Year is celebrated with relish even though when the year changes to 2010 celebrating the birth of Christ 2,010 years ago by the Gregorian calendar, it changes to 2553 in the Buddhist calendar, celebrating the birth of Buddah 2,553 years ago.
Chinese New Year is celebrated throughout Thailand because of the large ethnic Chinese community and the mixed ancestry throughout along with their financial influence. You can distinguish pure Thai from mixed because pure Thais always smile even if they just killed someone, whereas mixed will scowl if there is money involved and because of their emphasis on money they are financially more successful.
Then Songkran, the Traditional New Year, is celebrated throughout South East Asia but nowhere with more exuberancel as in Chiang Mai.
Drums of water are loaded on trucks and pumped at anyone in their path.
This is evident in photos as far back as 1960.
Visitors come from all over and business booms.
The spiritual significance of Songkran has largely been overpowered by the fun filled aspect.
by pouring perfumed water over Buddha images. These are set up in spots throughout the city. This water becomes special on contact with the sacred object and is poured over individuals as a blessings.
But most people are happy throwing the dirty water from the moat at passersbys.
Actually the music bands were pretty good if you like head-banging rock. The best way to enjoy it is to leave your camera at home with your inhibitions and get into the shower of fun.
Songkran originally was celebrated only in the north of Thailand adapted from the Hindu Holi festival, another free for all. Today it is observed by all neighboring Buddhist countries.
Its nice to see the Thai girls get soaking wet but unlike the T-shirt clad nubiles, in,say Florida,
they wear layers so as not to hint of much. That is except for the professional dancers on stage.
The farmers have been complaining of the lack of water for their crops.
It's interesting to see the copious volume of
water running constantly all day in the city for the celebration.
Some accidents are caused when a heavy bucket
Competing bands on opposite sides of the road can be heard blocks away.
of water is thrown at full force at a speeding motorcycle.
Even cars with their windows rolled up can suffer a broken windshield-wiper from the force of enthusiasm.
Occasional signs of pent up feelings the young Thais have towards the seemingly carefree life of the farangs can manifest
itself in powerful over-dousing. But in all fairness I think a lot is in good nature. Most of the exuberance is directed towards each other with big smiles on everyone's faces.
I do not like the attackers that stand in a "safe area" like beside a food vendor, and wet people passing by.
I go out of my way to get them. This is probably revealing of my nature to my psychiatrist. Dr Sneiflbloom, take note.
Then there are the farangs (foreigners). Some old farts are determined to have the fun they missed while working and so they get out their squirt guns and wet anything in sight, especially other farangs. Other farangs are just adding to the party atmosphere. Some young farangs feel that "this is the life!, I'm having fun!". They numb themselves with alcohol and dance half-assedly while squirting blindly, not even concerned that the
person they are wetting down has a $300 camera in his hand that could easily be ruined. "Hey look at me! I'm drunk and having a good time!"
This is the biggest festival of the year but
Songkran is not a happy time for everyone:
The main causes of death remain driving under the influence of alcohol and speeding. Mostly motorcycles
but pickup trucks on the highway are the most involved.
A total of 272 deaths and 3,104 injuries and 2,863 accidents were reported in road accidents during the seven dangerous days of Songkran festival.
The Red Shirt demonstrators in Bangkok have disrupted things. Most are from this northern region but when they tried to establish a protest here they were shouted down by the locals who read about the heavy financial toll it took by chasing the tourists away.
Drums of water are loaded on trucks and pumped at anyone in the path.
Visitors come from all over and business takes off. Take a look at my previous Travel Blogs.
Go to www.MyTB.org/nomad1979
then scroll down through the last 40 entries
There are more photos below