Songkran festival

What is the Songkran festival?

Songkran is a celebration in Thailand that marks the start of the Buddhist New Year. Consequently, Songkran is sometimes referred to informally as Thai New Year. Songkran is also known as the Water Splashing Festival. That’s because monks, elders, and sculptures of the Buddha are splashed with scented water as a sign of respect.

When is Songkran in 2022?

In 2022, Songkran will begin on Wednesday 13th April and end on Friday 15th April. Songkran occurs at the same time as other Buddhist New Year celebrations in: 

  • Cambodia (Chol Chnam Thmey).
  • Laos (Bun Pi Mai).
  • Myanmar (Thingyan).

Songkran celebrations coincide with planting season, making the water splashing beneficial to crops and livestock.

How to celebrate Songkran

How to celebrate Songkran

In addition to the water-based rituals, most Thais spend Songkran with their families in rural areas. And as Songkran is an official holiday, all schools, banks, and government institutions are closed throughout the festival. Unsurprisingly, tourist spots like Bangkok can be relatively quiet at this time of year. 

If you’re in the capital during Songkran, you can celebrate by splashing water at the tourist-friendly Khao San Road gathering. In fairness, festivities like these are more like friendly fights with water pistols. Think the Holi Hindu festival but with water.

If you’re after a more traditional celebration, visit the nearby town of Ayutthaya where splashing is preceded by almsgiving in front of temples.

Send a gift home this Songkran by transferring money to Thailand.

How to say Happy Songkran in Thai

How to say Happy Songkran in Thai

In the Thai language, it’s “สวัสดีปีใหม่” which means ‘Happy New Year’. Phonetically, it’s pronounced “Sa-wat-dee-bpee-mai”. The table below describes what each part means.

Sa-wat-deeHello; goodbye; good morning, afternoon,  evening or night; greetings, happy
bpeeyear; annum; annual
mainew; modern; fresh

Alternatively, click the 🔊 icon on to hear how it sounds. 

Songkran traditions

Buddhists believe that happiness for the new year comes from Puñña or merit-making

During Songkran, it’s customary to perform puñña by distributing food and cleaning your neighbourhood. Communities gather to clean temples, schools, and other public venues like libraries. It’s also tradition to clean one’s home to prepare for the New Year.

Another way to gain merit is to celebrate the past. Honouring ancestors is a time-honoured tradition for the Thais. After splashing, many Thais pray at local temples to connect with their ancestors.

Cooking food is also a Songkran tradition. It’s another way to remember ancestors through generational recipes.

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