Songkran – The Festival of Cleansing

Posted by & filed under All Subjects, Asia, Buddhism, East Asia, International Education, South Asia, Southeast Asia.

Starting between the 13th and the 15th of April, Songkran, the Thai Festival of Cleansing commences. The name translates to ‘Astrological Passage’ and is believed to have been adapted from the Sankranti Hindu festival, although today it is treated very differently and sees its biggest celebrations in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in the north, for at least a week at a time.


As the festival starts, people wander the street with water guns or containers of water along with bowls of beige coloured cheap talc or chalk. These materials end up being smeared, poured, thrown and squirted over each other as frenzied water fights fall into place. City officials close off many of the streets for vehicles and install makeshift gates manned by police. Who is targeted by the waterfights, however, remains completely random, and city officials and police may join in as well.



Traditionally, Songkran is viewed as a Buddhist festival and participants often go into nearby Buddhist temples to pray and give food to the monks, as well as washing images and statuettes of Buddha with water, often mixed with a Thai perfume of sorts. In many cities, these images and statuettes are paraded through the streets, allowing passers-by to ‘cleanse’ them by throwing water over them. This water is then considered ‘blessed’ and traditionally was collected and poured onto the shoulders of family members and elders to give them good fortune.


During these times, many people make new years’ resolutions and put an emphasis more on the fun of the water fighting than on the tradition and Buddhist beliefs included in the festival, in many ways not too dissimilar to the west’s contemporary take on Christmas. Traditionally, you would greet others during this festival with the greeting “Sawatdi pi Mai” (Happy New Year) or “Suk san wan Songkran” (Happy Songkran Day).


Perhaps you’re looking to join the festivities or maybe you’re just looking to cool off a little, whatever the weather, SeekTeachers offers positions all around the world in almost every subject! So why not have a look at SeekTeachers’ jobs today?