Songkran is a celebration marking the Thai New Year that takes place every year on April 13th. The festival celebrates the arrival of the wet season, also known as the monsoon season in the region. In antiquity, Thai’s would pay respect to their ancestors, parents, and Buddha, by pouring small amounts of water on their elders shoulders, after going to the temple and doing the same to buddhist monks and statues. This emphasis on water spiraled into what is now a glorified day long nation-wide water fight. I was born and raised in Thailand, so I have participated in this holiday for as long as I can remember. On this day every year, no matter how old or young, rich or poor, the entire country participates. Shops are closed, jobs are put on hold, and people flood into the streets to spray each other with water. When I was younger, my parents would put us all in the back of my fathers pick up truck, and drive us through the streets while we had water fights with all of the locals. Elders would put prickly powder on our faces, and this is seen as good luck for the younger generation. Government officials, policemen, and respected elders who would not normally engage with society on this level throw social norms to the way-side and celebrate amongst the people on this special day. In the north of Thailand, the fight lasts three days due to the attraction of tourism and has become a large part of the tourism economy of the north. Songkran is my favorite holiday just because of the feeling of pride and nationalism that is tied into having pure amounts of fun. There are no codes to abide by, except for the fact that you should try and wet everyone, and there is nothing more exciting than attacking an unsuspecting stranger on this day.
Having participated in a Songkran celebration myself, I really enjoyed hearing what the informant had to say about it. She very accurately described the thrill of the whole festival and how childish it seems, but actually really important to so many people.