Songkran is the Thai New Year’s festival. The Thai New Year’s Day is 13 April every year, but the holiday period includes 14–15 April as well. The word “Songkran” comes from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti literally “astrological passage”, meaning transformation or change. The term was borrowed from Makar Sankranti, the name of a Hindu harvest festival celebrated in India in January to mark the arrival of spring. It coincides with the rising of Aries on the astrological chart, the New Year of many calendars of South and Southeast Asia. The festive occasion is in keeping with the Buddhist/Hindu solar calendar.
The Songkran celebration is rich with symbolic traditional activities such as merit-making by visiting local temples and offering food to the Buddhist monks in the morning, performing water pouring on Buddha during 3 days period and those activities represents purification and the washing away all of their sins and bad luck and people believe those merits can bring good fortune in coming new year.
Younger people keep their ancestors’ tradition by water pouring over the palms of elders’ hands as an important part of Songkran activities. Songkran holidays is well known for its water festival which is mostly celebrated by young people and visiting foreigners in major cities and towns in Thailand. Streets are closed for traffic, and are used as arenas for water fights. Celebrants, young or old, participate in this tradition by splashing water on each other. More importantly, traditional parades are held, where cars are decorated with traditional ornaments. Also, the central festival often holds a pageant contest or “Miss Songkran” where contestants are clothed in traditional Thai dress.