Derived from the Sanskrit word samkrāni, meaning “astrological passage,” Thailand’s Songkran festival coincides the Sun’s transition from Taurus into Aries, a solar event that marks the Thai New Year. While, today, Songkran is generally known for the all-out water wars that take place on the streets of Thailand, there is much more to the festival than soaking your friends.
Traditionally, water—symbolizing life, transformation and renewal—was sprinkled by youth on elders to signify blessings and respect. If it was poured on others, it was done so gently and accompanied by good wishes for the New Year. All this far from the madness witness on the streets of Khao Lak during this time.
Other rituals of Songkran include the tying of strings around the wrists of others while reciting short prayers or blessings, adding a personal touch to those celebrating the New Year. Often times, this leaves respected and well-liked individuals covered in bracelets, which they are expected to wear until they fall off by natural means.
Finally, one of the oldest Songkran traditions involves a white paste or powder. The substance is carried in a silver bowel and spread across the face, neck and torso of others, and is typically done by an elder in the community. This act supposed to protect the wearer and ward off any bad spirits that my be trying to cause mischief in the New Year.
Those at Wicked who were land based during Songkran made sure everyone got the full experience, taking advantage of water buckets lining the streets of Khao Lak to drench anyone brave—or stupid—enough to be wandering the streets. However, spending a good chuck of our time underwater, those of us out at sea had a different Songkran experience.
Getting wet isn’t anything special when you’re diving; it comes with the territory. With that in mind, we spent most of our three-day liveaboard experience at the Similan Islands quite wet, keeping with the Songkran tradition. On top of that, P’da took a moment away from feeding us in order to coat everyone on the boat with a minty white paste, keeping the bad spirits at bay.
And it must have worked, as manta rays, turtles, octopi, and even giant smack of tiny jellyfish, are just a few examples of creatures that happily joined us in our celebration of the New Year. Add good company, great food, along with a few beers to wind down after a long day of diving, and you have yourself an epic start the New Year.
Regardless of how you celebrated it, we hope you had just as WICKED a Songkran as us, and wish you a happy year filled with diving!
Written by Austen