Celebrating Songkran – the Thai New Year festival
Think New Year has long gone, then think again. Songkran is the Thai New Year, a Buddhist festival which forms the major public holiday of the year in Thailand and happily it is still ahead of us, celebrated as it is from the 13th April to 15th April. In fact, in some parts of Thailand festivities go on for a week.
The origins of Songkran
The word Songkran derives from the ancient Sanskrit language and refers to the astrological journey of the sun from one Zodiac sign to the next. Though there are a number of these transitions each year, April marks the major one, when the Sun enters Aries. Although the date was once calculated by astrological charts and set by Brahmin priests, now the date is fixed.
Why water makes a mark at Songkran
Songkran is often referred to as the Thai Water Festival, and it incorporates cleansing rituals including the tradition of cleaning Buddha icons during the celebrations, then sprinkling people with the water as a sign of respect and to invoke prosperity and good fortune for the year ahead. Songkran then marks a cleansing that is both spiritual and physical, denoting a fresh start for the coming year. In marking new beginnings, the festival shares some similarities with other festivals around the world including Easter, Holi and Ching Ming.
Chalk and sand
Powder in the shape of chalk, talc and sand also play a part in the festivities. Chalk was used by monks in blessings and now chalk or talc is often strewn around as part of the celebrations. Whilst in northern Thailand sand is brought to the temples and sand pagodas built in the grounds as part of the celebrations.
The festival today
Today the festival has become synonymous with the throwing of water, so in walking down the street in Thailand you might find yourself splattered with water - you may well have seen photographs in the press of raucous water fights during the celebrations. Songkran also marks the passage from Thailand’s driest, hottest month to the rainier season, with the water fights bringing relief in the intense heat. Songkran is an ancient festival, but one as treasured today, as it was in the past.
Celebrate Songkran in style
Step into Mantra Thai and celebrate the Thai New Year this April, make a reservation when you contact our team, call 0191 232 6080 or 0191 232 6070 to book your table. View our menus or visit us at 29 Forth Banks, Quayside, Newcastle, NE1 3SG, just a short walk from Central Station.