Sunday, April 14, 2013

Songkran: Thai New Year's Day

Wisdom Quarterly
Wat Thai altar, Los Angeles; Songkran in Thailand as Water Festival (
Wat Thai, North Hollywood
The Songkran Festival (สงกรานต์, សង្រ្កាន្ត, from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti, "astrological passage") is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year's Day from April 13 to 15th, coinciding with the New Year of many calendars of South and Southeast Asia. The date of the festival was originally set by astrological calculation. It is now fixed. However, if these days fall on a weekend, the missed days off are taken on the weekdays immediately following.
Emerald Temple, Bangkok (Jorge Brazil/flickr)
Songkran comes during the hottest time of the year in Thailand, at the end of the dry season [which is just when the US begins to heat up, particularly in Coachella, California]. Until 1888 the Thai New Year was the beginning of the year in Thailand; thereafter April 1st was used until 1940, but now January 1st is the beginning of the year. The traditional Thai New Year has become a national holiday ever since.

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