Songkran is a celebration that embraces goodwill, love, compassion, and thankfulness, using water as the means of expression. Songkran festival has been celebrated in Bangkok and several regions in Thailand as well as in Southern China, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia.
The word songkran is derived from Sanskrit and means to move or step forward. The first day of Songkran takes place when the sun moves from Pisces into Aries, which marks the New Year’s Day according to the Brahmin solar calendar.
The festival of Songkran is from 13 to 15 April every year. The first day is known as Maha Songkran or the grand Songkran. Thai government has declared the Songkran Festival an extended public holiday to enable people to return to their hometown and reunite with others in their community. In addition the government also designated 13 April the Day of the Senior or Elderly. The occasion marks the appreciation for the senior population for their years of contribution to the family and country, and 14 April is Family Day to celebrate family love and togetherness.
To celebrate Songkran, there are many activities throughout Thailand according to regional tradition. Some of the activities include: cleaning houses and public places such as temples, schools, and offices to welcome the New Year with cleanliness and fresh start, merit making by offering alms to monks in dedication to the late ancestors, listening to Buddhist preaching, and releasing birds and fish back to their natural habitat.