For 1 day on the 13th day of April every year, the festival of Songkran is celebrated throughout the Khao Lak region. Songkran is Thailand’s New Year, with the current year being 2562 BE (Buddhist Era). This form of calendar corresponds precisely with that applying to the Gregorian calendar. Not all cities and regions in Thailand, however, celebrate Songkran for only 1 day. For example, celebrations in Bangkok can last up to 5 days! Last year, Thai authorities extended the holiday to a total of 1 week so as to enable citizens to return to their homes and spend the festive occasion with their families. In the ancient Sanskrit language of India, the word “Songkran” means something like “shift” or “movement”. It indicates the sun’s advancement each month from one location to the next location in accordance with the signs of the zodiac. Songkran’s origins are not completely known, but it is generally accepted that the festival is derived from a mixture of Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Importantly, the Khao Lak weather is always hot and humid in the month of April, which makes the festival’s dousing of cold water chilled by ice on passers-by, a mostly appealing proposition!
Songkran Celebrations in Bang Niang Village, Khao Lak
The events organized for Songkran in Khao Lak have changed over the years. For example, back in 2014 the celebrations went for 3 days. For the first day, the Tsunami Memorial Park in Bang Niang contained several food stalls, as well as drink stalls that had alcoholic beverages for sale. Later in the evening a band performed on a large stage set up at the back of the Park next to the Tsunami Patrol Boat. During the second day, the stage was used for the presentation of a beauty pageant. Finally, on the third day, the streets were packed with people spraying passers-by with water from water-guns. No-one was spared, including motor-cyclists and people sitting on the back of open trucks. Large bins with ice were used to particularly cool off those prepared to venture on to the streets! This year, as seen in the video, a foam-maker was employed on top of a stage to spray people squeezed in to a very large compound on the street below. The video also shows people using the more familiar water-pumps and water containers.
Khao Lak Songkran Celebrations in 2014
Thai people love celebrations and festivals, and generally do not hold back on enjoying themselves to the max. Given the possibility of some form of agro arising from inappropriately spraying others, I am pleased to report that I have never come across any hostilities occurring during Songkran. Everyone simply accepts that they will be dumped on. I guess if someone does not want to get sprayed, then staying home is the appropriate alternative. Of all the things to do in Khao Lak, celebrating Songkran with tourists and locals alike is particularly worth it, even getting your body and clothes completely drenched!