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Chapter 15: Water Ways i.e. Songkran

Updated: Feb 1

Since arriving in Chiang Mai in January, I've been sharing different "Drink of the Day" drinks found here. Today's drink? Water. Why water? Because in hot season, it's refreshing and thirst-quenching.

But that's not all. You see, this is the week of Songkran--Thailand's lunar New Year. And in Chiang Mai, it's become a three day (or more?) city-wide water fight.


That's what it has morphed into. But water has always played a significant role in celebrating Songkran. As part of the new year, water symbolizes the washing away of the previous year in preparation for the new one.

And in Buddhism, the country's national religion, clean or scented water is sprinkled over statues of Buddha at the temple as a way of seeking purification and good fortune. Also, families and extended families visit the temple together. There, the younger generation takes water and pours it over the hands of their elderly relatives and friends to show their respect as well as to ask for blessings for the year ahead.

Our family never followed these customs at the Buddhist temple. However, I do remember an adapted version done at the Thai Christian church we attended years ago.

On Songkran Sunday, the pastor's children bowed before their parents and then poured water over their hands--NOT to worship them but to show their respect as well as to ask for their parents' blessing for the coming year.

It was a moving experience. And I remember thinking that our Western cultures could learn a thing or two from this practice. I know I'm generalizing here, but it seems that many of the younger generation (baby boomers included), no longer respect and take time to listen to the wisdom and knowledge that the elderly have to offer. We've lost that value. Perhaps it's time we bring it back!

Our three very wet kids!

Getting back to the water fights:

My hubby and I no longer participate in such adventures. But when we lived here with our children, we were out there in the streets driving around spraying water or getting sprayed with water.

Do you see the pickup truck in the first photo? The truck box full of people with water guns? That was our family!

In 1997, our first Songkran here, I remember a friend of ours with a supercab truck coming to pick us up. He had two barrels in the back that we filled with water. We grabbed our water guns, piled in, and away we went.

It would take us 3-4 hours to get around the moat (the best place to go). Considering each side of the moat is only 1 km in length, you can guess how fast we were going AND, how wet we were by the time we got home!

Then on days we weren't driving around (when my hubby and I had had our fill), our kids would take their water guns out to the busy street in front of our house, and spray anyone and everyone, whether vehicle or pedestrian. During Songkran, everybody's fair game, including policemen.

I learned early that if you don't want to get wet, don't go out. And if you get wet, don't get angry (at least don't show your anger). Just smile and move on!

So now you understand why my Drink of the Day is water.

And now I'm really thirsty. Time to go get some of that "Pure Life."



Hi Connie - I sent you an attachment yesterday, or day before - about a paper-making place in Chiang Mai. Did you see it? Hope the water festival wasn't too disruptive! Looks amazing! :)Marcia


What great fun! And I agree that respect needs to be emphasized more, at home, at school and in church. Enjoying your posts, Connie!! What a great slice of Thailand life.



Can't imagine a water fight here after the rainy snowy cold day here yesterday, but I hope you enjoy the sunshine and pure life! -Kathryn

Connie Inglis
Connie Inglis

Well, the temp. here is hitting 40 this week. Ugh! Especially since the air is bad, bad, bad.


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