The traditional New Year of Thailand, the Songkran Festival falls from 13th to 15th of April coinciding with the new years of some other South Asian countries. The most striking festival in the country, it is also popularly known as the Water Festival. Thailand celebrates it with reverence and enthusiasm.
Widely observed in Burma, Lao State and Cambodia in addition to Thailand, the festival is marked by families that gather and visit temples, sprinkling water on Buddha images as an act of reverence and sprinkling water on each other to wish good luck.
Youngsters and other enthusiasts following the ritual of water sprinkling is a common sight during the period of the festival. Many Thais can be seen roaming the streets with water containers and water guns. However Songkran was traditionally a period to visit family members, elders, neighbours, monks and friends.
The cleaning of Buddha images in monasteries as well as household shrines is a special tradition honoured during Songkran. Water mixed with a special Thai fragrance is gently poured over the Buddha images with the hope of being blessed with prosperity and good luck for the New Year. In some cities special parades take place carrying Buddha images from all of each city's monasteries on ornately decorated floats allowing people sprinkle water at them.
A special time of renewal and cleansing, the festival creates a lively atmosphere throughout Thailand. Capturing the hearts of travellers for both its cultural and fun attributes, this celebration of Thailand has long been the ideal opportunity for the locals to take a break from their ordinary lifestyle. Just like the Indian Holi Festival, Songkran Festival is a celebration of vernal equinox.