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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Thailand, Lesson 3 – Songkran Festival Day
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Thailand Series at ThaiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Thai holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 3, Songkran Festival Day. In Thai, it’s called วันสงกรานต์ (wan sŏng-graan).
In this lesson, we're going to discuss Songkran Day, which falls on April 13-15 every year. I believe many people already know this day as ‘water festival’. This period is a very joyful one for Thai people because it is a long holiday that allows everyone to fully relax from their work or study.
You must be interested by now. If you’re ready, let’s listen.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
April 13 of every year is not only Songkran Day, but also another important day for Thai people. What do you guys think this day is?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Songkran is a long holiday period, which allows children and grandchildren who work in different areas, especially the capital city, to take the opportunity to visit their hometown - บ้านเกิด (bâan gòoet) and family - ครอบครัว (khrâawp-khruua). so they can take part in activities together over the holiday. One long-held tradition consists of making offerings, offering food to monks, and doing charitable activities like setting animals free and working for public services. Another traditional activity is to pour water onto elders’ or respected people’s hands to ask for their blessings.
An important activity during Songkran Festival that attracts millions of foreign tourists is water splashing or เล่นน้ำสงกรานต์ (lên náam sŏng-graan). During the festival period, getting splashed is considered normal in Thailand. Thai people will not be angry because they believe that splashing water works to wash bad luck and other bad things away. However, it should be done respectfully. Exceptions should be made for elders or those who are not willing to play with water. People will walk along the streets with water guns. Some will play in front of their own houses, holding water hoses that are normally used to wash cars and splashing water on passersby. In some places, people also rub chalk on each other’s faces.
Another activity that is held in every province is the Miss Songkran beauty pageant. This event is for Thai ladies aged 18 to 25. Its purpose is to find a lady or หญิงสาว (yĭng săao) with the beauty, knowledge, and ability to represent and promote tourism for the province. The judging criteria for the contestants include wearing Thai dresses, showing their talents and personality, and answering quizzes that test their wit.
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.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
April 13 of every year is not only the Songkran Day, but also another important day for Thai people. What do you guys think this day is?
Since the reign of King Rama V, April 1 had been designated as the Thai New Year. Later, in 1940, the date of New Year's Day was changed to the international day recognized on 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.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you have a similar tradition in your country?
Leave us a comment telling us at ThaiPod101.com!
And I’ll see you in the next lesson!