Happy New Year for the third time. If you didn’t start the year off right, the first two time, here’s your last chance. It’s Songkran. The Thai New Year derived from an ancient Indian Sanskrit Festival.
In days of yore, this was a time when people brought offerings of food to monks in the temple. The monks would bless water and give it to people in return. They would take it home and pour it over each other as a way to spread the blessing.
Somewhere along the way, the celebration evolved into the biggest Thai holiday of the year. For four days days, the normally buttoned up Thais don the brightest floral shirts they can find and let loose. Stacks of loudspeakers line the streets, blaring Thai pop hits. Deep bass hums. By late afternoon, the whole city is thrumming.
The pouring of water has also evolved. Tubs of water line the street. People armed with hoses and water guns moisten passersby. Bands of brothers in pickup trucks with water tanks in the back prowl the street dousing anyone in range. People gather in more central areas for what may be the world’s largest water fight. Water guns fly off the shelves as do protective goggles and waterproof phone cases. Where else can you squirt strangers with water with no retribution, except for a return squirt and a laugh?
Entrepreneurs sell water refills for a quarter. As the temperatures soar into the triple digits, the blocks of ice floating in the refill tubs are a welcome addition. When they aren’t refilling, they too are tossing cups of water at the crowd. The drains can’t handle the amount of water that people are dumping on each other. The streets are ankle deep in places.
No one is totally safe, if you’re one the streets, you’re a target from around noon until after midnight. In the morning, balconies are lined with floral shirts hung out to dry for the next day.
Photos below are from our day in the Silom area of Bangkok. 250,000 people gathered for the world’s biggest squirt gun fight.