Songkran - What an AWESOME holiday!
We were lucky enough to be visiting over the Thai New Year - Songkran. Their calendar is counted from Buddha's birth...as ours is from Christ's birth. Though they've accepted and used the same calendar as we do for many years, their New Year in April is still one of the most celebrated holidays in the country. How fun to see the new year of 2551 be born into Thailand!
There really is no way to describe Songkran with words...you seriously just have to see it. The most obvious celebration of this holiday is throwing water. They dump water on you to 'shower you with blessings'. Basically, it's a three-day, country-wide water fight (also celebrated in Laos, Burma and Cambodia...I think). We were gently introduced to the holiday after church in Laos, when the members of the branch sat 8 chairs in a semi-circle for our family and the senior missionary couples. After we were all seated, member after member after member after member came around the circle with a cup full of rose-water.
We were instructed to hold our hands out in a bowl shape as each member poured water into our hands and voiced a blessing to us. Some blessings ran exceptionally long as water overflowed the 'bowl' and seeped through each gap between our fingers. We then were told to take our full hands and dump the water on our heads. Definitely not something I was planning on doing when I got dressed that morning! We couldn't stop laughing the whole time, and the members loved it! We were further surprised when they came along the back of us and started dumping cups full of water down our shirts.... :) This went on for a good 20 minutes, and boy were we soaked by the end...my skirt and hair were literally dripping when I stood up!
My dad missed out on the 20 minutes of blessings, however the members were quick to greet him with cups full of water when he came out of his interviews. He lucked out, however, because he stood the whole time...his pants never got wet (and, he could understand what they were saying in their blessings!).
We drove back to Thailand that afternoon, and it was SO MUCH FUN to watch the celebrations from the safety of our enclosed van. :) Group after group of people were lined up along the highways with barrels of water, squirt guns and hoses, ready to douse any and everybody. We saw countless trucks loaded down with people out to get soaked. Friend soaking friend, stranger soaking stranger. Music and dancing and dripping and drinking were everywhere - EVERYWHERE!
It was rather hard to get good pictures as we traveled along the highway...so these are a little blurry...but notice the three pick-up trucks in a row in the first picture, loaded down with people and water. This was typical. The second picture cracked me up - how many people are in that truck? And their HATS! Notice in the third picture how the group of people has moved out into the highway...we're going 50 mph here, and they're waltzing out in front of the traffic signaling for people to slow down so they can soak them with water! The craziest part about it, is that people DO IT! The trucks slow down and veer to their side with their water guns and buckets of water ready to douse the people on the ground.
Seriously, why don't we celebrate this holiday?!