One of the high spots of the Thai calendar is the annual New Year celebration which falls on or around April 13, when the sun moves into Aries. 'Songkran' originates from the Sanskrit meaning 'beginning of the solar year'.
The holiday-loving Thais can celebrate New Year three times each year: the Western New Year on January 1, the Chinese New Year in February, and the Thai New Year in April. (other Festivals and Events).
Tourism, these days Songkran has turned into a water-throwing funfest, in which anyone and everyone is liable to get thoroughly drenched-a blessed relief in this, the hottest season of the year. The water-throwing custom may have come from the mythical belief that sea serpents or 'naga' bring on the rains by spouting water from the sea. Water throwing may therefore have been a rain-making custom to guarantee ample water for next year's crops.
The actual festival dates in Thailand vary a little.. example:
North Chiang Mai 10th, Phuket 13th, Bangkok 15th, Pattaya 19th (the fun starts about 3 days before the actual festival date).
Traditionally, Thais visit temples at this time of year to offer food to the monks and to participate in bathing ceremonies for Buddha images. At home, young people pour scented water into the hands of their parents and elders as a mark of respect and to receive the blessing of the older folk. Another custom is the releasing of small fish into rivers and canals. This merit-making act is thought to come from the old practice of collecting small fish from dried out pools, to keep and later release back into the wild.
Bangkok is at its quietest at Songkran, as many of the revelers have gone back to their upcountry homes for the long holidays. The roads are remarkably traffic-free. Most of the action in the city is concentrated at places like Khao San Road, a traditional hangout for young backpackers, which turns into a free-fire water-sloshing zone for the duration of the holidays. More traditional celebrations are held near the Grand Palace, with bathing of the sacred Phra Buddha Sihing image.
A Miss Songkran contest is held in the Wisutkasat area, accompanied by merit making, fun and entertainment.
Whatever part of Thailand you happen to be in, the only way to stay dry at this time of year is to stay in your room alone. So get out, get soaked and join in the fun in Thailand's very traditional, very unique and very 'sanuk' Songkran water festival.
Please be careful .. (many road accidents occur with a little too much excitment, water pistols, too much alcolhol) ..