Understanding the Festival
Songkran is an annual celebration that stretches over a 3 day period, officially starting on April 13. The term Songkran refers to moving or changing, and more specifically, relating to the sun changing to a new zodiac, or new year. Despite the festival having a strong focus on water fights, there are also traditional aspects of the festival which include water ceremonies and using chalk to mark blessings.
In modern society the spiritual and religious aspects of Songkran are taken more seriously by traditionalists, or elders of the community. As one of the main aspects of this festival includes throwing water on others, a more traditional way to be involved is through the Rod Nam Dam Hua ceremony. This ceremony enables you to be blessed by the elders, by sprinkling a small amount of water over their hands. The concept of throwing water in this festival originated from pouring perfumed water over Buddha images in prosper to receive good fortune in the new year. Additionally, chalk is also used during Songkran to mark blessings in order to bring protection and good luck. This ritual was originally performed by monks. The chalk is available to be purchased during the festival and when mixed with water is used to give blessing by marking the faces of others.
Cleaning for the new year, preparing food and offering the food and new robes to monks are also rituals performed during Songkran, where each activity is completed on a different day over the duration of the festival. Typically the first day of the new year is when the prepared food and robes are offered to monks. This day is referred to as Wan Payawan, which was traditionally the first day to toss water.