“Songkran” The Thai New Year

Each year, the four-day celebration of Songkran in Chiang Mai consists of many activities, and these are briefly explained below.

Songkran, or the Thai New Year, is still the most important of all the Thai festivals and holidays. We usually have loads of friends from other countries to our home and we love to have them participate in all the traditional activities with us. Although we are not Buddhists we love to go to the temples to watch the activities, eat, drink, throw water and just have fun.

“Songkran” derives from the movement of the sun from one position to another in the zodiac. According to its literal meaning in Sanskrit, a songkran occurs every month. However, the period that Thai people refer to as songkran happens when the sun moves from Pisces to Aries in the zodiac. The Thai New Year, or “Songkran” festival is April 12 to 15

The Thai New Year, or “Songkran” festival, is the largest water fight on the planet. However, it is much more than that to the Thai people. Here are the events of the Thai new year that we enjoy each year.

April 12 is :Wan Sungkharn Lohng”.
This is a day for house cleaning and general preparation for the New Year. In the evening it is traditional for Thais to dress up as a signal of the coming new year.

April 13 is “Wan Nao”.
On this day a grand new year begins with early morning merit-making at the temples. Preserved and cooked foods, fresh fruit, monks’ robes and other offerings are made at the temples. In the home, people do the final cleaning of Buddha images using scented water. Traditionally this is the day that the pouring of water begins. It was once the practice to pour scented water gently on the hands of elders, but the fun-loving Thais have transposed this into a relative water free-for-all.

Also on this day people prepare cooked meals and preserved food for the Buddhist merit-making that takes place on the following day. Activities at Wat Prasingh temple in Chiang Mai continue on this day and in the evening local residents go to the banks of the Mae Ping River and gather sand to be deposited in piles topped by flowers in the temples. This practice is the ancient “raising the temple grounds” ritual, which was necessary in the old days because then Thai New Year was held at the end of the rainy season in the first month of the old Thai Lunar Calendar.

April 14 is Wan Payawan.
In Chiang Mai, the Songkran procession is held on this day. This is a parade through Chiang Mai comprised of Buddha images and attendants on floats, which are accompanied by minstrels and the town’s people.


Today a grand new year begins with early morning merit-making at the temples. Preserved and cooked foods, fresh fruit, monks’ robes and other offerings are made at the temples. In the home, people do the final cleaning of Buddha images using scented water. Traditionally this is the day that the pouring of water begins. It was once the practice to pour gently, but the fun-loving Thais have transposed this into a relative water free-for-all.


Today we load up the pickup truck with 50-gallon drums filled with water. After the parade we go to the ice house for a large block of ice to put in the water barrel. We then travel around the city joining others in the largest water fight on the planet.

April 15 is Wan Parg-bpee.
On this day homage is paid to ancestors, elders and other persons deserving respect because of age of position. This is called ‘Rohd Nam Songkran’, meaning ‘The Pouring of Songkran Water’, and the water is sprinkled on the elder persons while uttering wishes of good luck and a happy future.

In Chiang Mai, this is the final day of the celebration and the day on which people have built up to a crescendo of water throwing. It is the day when all family and religious obligations have been completed and the people are totally dedicated to having fun.

Published by Randy Gaudet

Living in Thailand since 1989 I enjoy sharing my experiences in Thailand

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