Hey, y’all! As we announced a few days ago, we’ll be celebrating Songkran at our Forest Lane location this coming Sunday, April 14, 2019 at 1:00 PM. As part of the celebration, we’ll hold a Buddha bathing ritual and make a bunch of flower garlands. And because no Songkran is ever complete without good food, we’ll have Thai BBQ and beignets for everyone to enjoy.
We sure would like you to join us for Songkran. But allow us to take this opportunity to explain to you what Songkran is and why it matters to us.
Thailand welcomes the New Year on Songkran
Just like most countries on the planet, Thailand toasts the New Year at the strike of midnight on January 1. But Thailand also keeps to the Southeast Asian lunar calendar when observing its customs. In this lunar calendar, the New Year is born when the sun passes from Pisces, the last constellation on the zodiac, to Aries, the zodiac’s first constellation. This passing is called Songkran.
The word “Songkran” evolved from the Hindu term “mesa Sankranti.” This literally means “passing,” although it has also come to mean “change” and “transformation.” Thailand isn’t the only country that observes Songkran; Southeast Asian countries falling under the Buddhist sphere of influence do to, such as Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia. People from Sri Lanka, as well as parts of China, Vietnam, and northeast India also hold Songkran celebrations too. Among the Hindus, they have a similar event, which they call Mesha Sankranti.
Songkran is both a solemn event and a party
Thais generally observe Songkran from April 13 to 15. However, the Thai government has been extending the celebrations to five days in recent years. This is to let people travel back to their hometowns so they could be with their loved ones.
Songkran celebrations are both solemn and joyful.
On Day 1, Wan Sangkhan Lhong, Thais spring-clean their homes and pay more attention to their appearance. They also go to temples to make offerings and wash Buddha statues. In many cities, Day 1 is when they hold the Miss Songkran pageant.
On Day 2, Wan Nao, people visit temples to make offerings, build sand stupas, and decorate them with things like flower garlands. It’s believed that the sand from the stupas clinging to your clothes and shoes bring New Year’s blessings. Wan Nao is also when the street water fights happen. They’re all fun and they’re a great way of beating the summer heat in Thailand.
On Day 3, Wan Phya Wan, people continue to make offerings at temples and throw water at each other on the street. But they also conduct water-pouring rituals on their elders to show their love and reverence, as well as to wish them blessings for the New Year.
Celebrate Songkran with us on April 14
As we’ve stated earlier, our Songkran celebrations are on Sunday, April 14, 2019, 1 PM at Forest Lane. It’s going to be a small affair, but we hope it’s a memorable one, one that honors and promotes Thai customs and culture.
Happy Thai New Year from your Asian Mint family. See you on Sunday.