Songkran – the biggest water fight in the world…

The biggest water fight in the world.

The streets are filled with guns – but not the kind that can cause you any harm. These guns use water as ammunition – and there’s certainly plenty of that around. Giant barrels full of it line the streets around Siam Square, with fire hoses connected to the mains to ensure you don’t run out.

The entrances to the major party areas have water running through them too – so it all hoses down on you like a huge shower.

The streets are packed, the skytrain stations are mobbed, everyone is wet, and everyone is smiling. This is the second time we’ve celebrated Songkran – New Year – in Thailand, and it’s still one of the most positive experiences I can recall. It’s such a privilege to be involved and, given that April is the hottest month of the year, it’s fabulous to feel cool!

Plastic wrapped ATMs

The water has a significance. It’s symbolic of cleansing, so the water fights and the splashing of each other is representative of washing away the crap from the old year and leaving a clean body for the new.

In Sanskrit, Songkran means “to pass into,” referring to the movement of the Sun, Moon and planets into a new phase, and therefore the start of a new year.

Originally based around the lunar New Year, ie the Aries New Moon, the dates have now been moved for uniformity and practicality.

Also, while the water festival can go for a couple of weeks in regional areas, it’s limited to just three days in Bangkok – again for very practical reasons. Bangkok is a commercial centre, and turning up to a meeting in wet business attire is so not a good look.

It’s not just about fun – there is a cultural and religious aspect to Songkran. Aside from visiting family and paying respect to ancestors and elders, there are activities that should be performed over each of the three days.

  • Day 1 is National Elderly Day. This is also when ritual house cleaning takes place, or rod nam dum hua. It’s a little like a symbolic washing clean of any bad luck that’s befallen the house, and those who live in it over the previous year.
  • Day 2 is National Family Day. This is when families give alms to monks and spend the day together- or at least the morning…the water fights and music start at noon each day.
  • Day 3 is National Ancestors Day when respect is paid to ancestors.

Throughout the holiday, devout Buddhists also “cleanse” Buddha images with scented water. It’s about bringing prosperity for the new year. There’s a merit making aspect to this, and, in Bangkok, visiting one of the sacred temples is considered good luck. This guarantees mega traffic jams – around the main temples like Wat Phra Kaew.

This pic was taken from our hotel at Songkran a few years ago.

Oh and the stuff that will be gently painted on your face? It’s marly limestone or din sor pong. It’s sold in little bags that look like tiny meringues, pounded up, mixed with water and a splash of fragrance. It’s actually quite cooling.

Songkran is a festival that couldn’t happen in Australia – or probably the UK or the US. Some idiot would get plastered and ruin it – or someone would sue someone for something resulting in the whole thing having its life legislated away.

Here, it’s good natured, it’s controlled and everyone seems to operate within the boundaries.

Here, it’s fun.

Songkran Do’s

  • Do expect to get wet
  • Do expect to get painted
  • Do put wallets, phones and cameras in zip lock plastic for protection. You can buy these custom made for water fights through street side sellers in Bangkok for around 20 baht – about 80c.
  • Do fight back. Water guns are available again from street sellers for around $1AUD for a basic model, and not that much more for a pump action bazooka.
  • Keep your sunglasses on and your mouth closed – Bangkok water isn’t really suitable for drinking…if you get my drift
  • Do consider the potential transparency of your clothes when wet – this applies to your bra and knickers too! Dark clothes are a good option.
  • Do keep a sense of humour and have some fun

Songkran Don’ts

  • Don’t splash monks, babies, the elderly or anyone who looks like they’ve dressed up
  • Don’t get in a tuk tuk if you’re not prepared to get wet
  • Don’t splash motorbikes or cyclists- there are enough traffic issues in Bangkok without causing more accidents
  • Don’t splash on trains, in shops, in hotel lobbies or through car windows.
  • Most hotel lobbies around the affected areas will have a “dry area” with towels for guests.
  • Most shopping malls will insist you leave your gun at the entrance. You can pick it back up on your way out…and yes, I’m aware of just how weird that sounds.

Other Stuff

Banks, offices, schools, small shops and restaurants will be closed for Songkran to allow people to travel to see their families. Most major shopping malls and attractions remain open, but check websites etc.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to share a little happy. Feel free to link up a post that reflects what you’re lovin’ about life. All bloggers are welcome! Fashion, food, beauty, business, personal, parenting … whatever … If you’re not a blogger then use the #lovinlife hashtag to tag instagram photos or tweets about the things that are making you smile. You can also click on some of the Lovin’ Life links below and see what else is in the blogosphere. So much to love …

To join in the Lovin’ Life Linky, all you’ve got to do is: Link one post about what you’re currently lovin’ in life. Read two or three posts from other Lovin’ Life Linkers and leave a comment so they know you’ve dropped by. Spread the Lovin’ Life word and feel free to link back. The linky goes live at 7.30am every Thursday and finishes at 7.30am of a Monday (Australian Eastern Time). Click on the link below to join in…

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

27 thoughts

    1. I love the symbolism of it – & the fun. Thanks for dropping by – & for alerting me on insta re the spamming 🙂

  1. Oh yes I remember getting drenched to the skin in Phuket one year and I wasn’t impressed because I was dressed up to go to dinner! However it is all about fun and it didn’t take long to dry off, however my hair turned into frizz and I wasn’t able to anything with that!

  2. My hair is permanently frizzy in Thailand! Last time Grant’s expensive leather wallet was turned to mush. This time we took plastic bags. Have a fabulous trip.

  3. Sounds like great fun but I was wondering about your phone and taking pics etc… If hot this would be excellent fun (if you were prepared of course!).

    1. Fully prepared with ziplock bags this year. Last time, Grants expensive leather wallet ended up as mush.

  4. I love the photo’s! All those happy, smiling faces are so lovely to see! This is one celebration I would be very happy to participate in! I do not like being hot so shoot away at me and I will be very happy! I loved reading your explanation of what Songkram is all about. I never knew of it – so very interesting!! #TeamLovinLife

    1. It’s so much fun – and you can’t help but laugh…which encourages more water to come your way!

  5. What a fabulous concept! It looks like the kids are having loads of fun – I know mine would love it, especially when they got to wet me!! 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

  6. This sounds so amazing, I’d love to go! And I absolutely love the concept and spiritualism behind it too. You’re right – anywhere else and someone would spoil it/have no respect for the do’s and especially the don’ts. #LovinLifeLinky

  7. we had the water fight on silom road, and after hesitating at first, it was one of the best travel experience i had having a water fight with random people on the street that didnt speak the same language 🙂

  8. Songkran is one my favorite holidays to celebrate when we were living in Penang, Malaysia. The street between the Thai temple and the Burmese temple was water fight central. Good tip about keeping in mind the transparency of your wet clothes since it’s a family event. I love that photo of the plastic wrapped ATMs. Thanks for linking up with #WkendTravelInspiration.

Comments are closed.