Songkran 2017 – A tradition in Change: From Spirituality to Massive Water Fights

As most of the interns, I was quiet astonished when my colleagues announced that everyone should get ready for the Office Songkran Blessings, which were supposed to heralding the start of Thailand’s New Year.

Although I was aware of the country’s popular water festival, which later definitely surpassed my initial expectations, I got positively surprised when realizing that Songkran is by far more spiritually oriented than the New Year celebration that we know from our Western world.

Not only did the GTCC team pay respect to seniors, such as from the Head of the Finance Department, but they also received blessings by Executive Director Dr. Roland Wein and Deputy Executive Director Marius Mehner, in the atmosphere of colorful wreathes of flowers and decoration that turned the new office into a place full of warmth, enthusiasm and delight.

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On the following day, I  joined the giant Water Fights on the streets of Bangkok. Drowned by the music of speakers that seemed to be everywhere, my friends and I went through the never-ending masses of primarily young, but also old people. Armed with waterguns that literally covered the entire Silom Road, we finally managed to find my shelter at the entrance of a 7eleven.

Despite all the fun, we had to realize that especially the Ice Water inside the Waterguns, which could be purchased on the sides of the road hindered us from enjoying the day to the fullest. The following obtrusive bombardement of cold water even started to hurt after a while and for the first time of my life in Bangkok I started to freeze in a way, which went beyond the feeling of a cold shower.

After losing ourselves on the roads of Bangkok, I decided to recover at my apartment before meeting my Thai friends in the evening at Bangkok’s well known Royal City Avenue, a hotspot for the city’s young party scene. To my surprise, the organizers allowed more people inside the event than other countries, so that the actual evening turned more into game of escaping the uncontrolled human masses.

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Especially the organizers and authorities should be aware that an irresponsible behavior as it was visible at this night could easily spark panic among people and eventually endanger human life.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed my first Songkran Festival; however truly believe that its significance has clearly changed over the last years, especially with regards to an increased level of tourism. For those, interested in the spiritual side of Songkran, there is after all still the possibility to attend a wide range of ceremonies that take place in a great number of temples.

 

 

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