Saturday, May 5, 2012
Songkran is the lunar New Year water festival held in April, the hot season. It is celebrated in many countries in this region, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Yunnan China, as well as far away Sri Lanka. Songkran is essentially a fertility ceremony offering water as a blessing for the upcoming monsoon rains in the hopes of an abundant rice crop. Scented water is poured over the hands of parents, teachers, and the elderly, as well as rose petaled water poured over the images of the Buddha. Lately however, at least in Thailand, the emphasis has changed from a gentle event into a raucous street party packed with drunken revelers throwing buckets of water on everyone. It is fun. It is also dangerous. For three days Thai music is played continually. Girls scream with glee, high powered water guns spray in water warfare. Open trucks drive by with hoses shooting those on the sidewalks. People put talcum paste on your cheeks. Children shoot sprays of water in to your face. The inebriated crash on the roadsides after being struck in the head with ice cubes.