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Celebrating the Songkran Festival in Thailand

Songkran Day, otherwise known as the Songkran Festival or Songkran Water Festival, is a unique Thai tradition that takes place in early spring each year. In this article, you’ll learn what the Songkran Festival is all about, how Thai people celebrate this holiday, and more!

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Songkran Day?

The Songkran holiday in Thailand is a three-day celebration period. During the Songkran Festival, Thai people are able to get much-needed rest and relaxation from work or school, as well as plenty of play-time! This holiday is also a period of blessings and a time to ทำบุญ (tham-bun), or “make merit.”

The Songkran Festival is a tradition that is not only present in Thailand but also in other Southeast Asian countries such as Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka. It is presumed that this festival was influenced by the Holi festival in India.

2. When is Songkran?

Sprinkling Water

Each year, the Songkran date is from April 13 to April 15.

3. How is the Songkran Festival Celebrated?

Because the Songkran Festival is a long holiday, many Thai people go back to their hometown to visit family and old friends.

There are a number of events and traditions that take place during the Thai Songkran Festival. As mentioned earlier, this is a time to make merit. Many common events during this holiday period include acts of service (like saving animals that are trapped), charity operations, and asking blessings from elders. Many people also เข้าวัด (khâo-wát), or “go to the temple,” and give food to the monks.

During the Songkran Festival, Thailand also hosts a beauty pageant. In the Miss Songkran beauty pageant, Thai women from ages eighteen to twenty-five wear Thai dresses, express their personality, and try to answer important questions. The winner for each province is considered a lady capable of promoting tourism in that province.

Perhaps the tradition you’re most familiar with is that of playing with น้ำ (nám), or water. Throughout Thailand, people will splash or sprinkle each other with water, shoot people with water guns, and also สรงน้ำพระ (sóng-náam-phrá), or “bathe the Buddha statue.” This is because many Thais believe that splashing water onto others will rid them of bad luck and other bad things. In some places, people also rub chalk in each other’s faces.

4. Another Important Holiday

Do you know what other Thai holiday falls on April 13?

Since the reign of King Rama V, April 1 had been designated as the ปีใหม่ไทย (phii-mài-thai), or Thai New Year. Later, in 1940, the date of New Year’s Day was changed to the international day of January 1. However, as Thai people in those days were still used to New Year’s Day being in April, April 13 was designated the first day of the Songkran holiday period, as well as the traditional Thai New Year.

    → Did you know that some people in Thailand also observe the Chinese New Year?

5. Essential Vocabulary for Songkran Day

An Elephant

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here’s a list of the most important words and phrases for Songkran!

  • น้ำ (nám) — “water”
  • ปีใหม่ไทย (phii-mài-thai) — “Thai New Year”
  • คำอวยพร (kham-uuai-phaawn) — “bless”
  • ทำบุญ (tham-bun) — “make merit”
  • รดน้ำดำหัว (rót-náam-dam-húua) — “water sprinkling”
  • ปืนฉีดน้ำ (bpuuen-chìit-náam) — “water gun”
  • น้ำอบ (náam-òp) — “Thai perfume”
  • สรงน้ำพระ (sóng-náam-phrá) — “bathe the Buddha statue”
  • เข้าวัด (khâo-wát) — “go to the temple”
  • สาดน้ำ (sàat-náam) — “throw water”
  • เทศกาลสงกรานต์ (thêet-sà-gaan sǒng-graan) — “Royal Songkran Festival”
  • ขบวนแห่ (khà-buuan-hàae) — “parade”

To hear the pronunciation of each word, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Thai Songkran Day vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about the Songkran Water Festival with us, and that you were able to take away some valuable cultural information.

What did you think about this holiday? Is there a similar celebration in your own country? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments!

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