Songkran 2020 a sad reminder of the challenging times that Covid-19 has brought to Thailand and the World.
Today should have marked the start of the Songkran festival in Thailand celebrating Thailand’s New Year. Normally 3 or more days of lively, happy party with water fights taking place everywhere. However, this year, overshadowed by the Covid-19 virus, the streets of Pattaya are empty of revellers with all establishments firmly shuttered.
Derived from Sanskrit to mean to move or movement it describes the movement of the sun from Pisces to Aries in the Zodiac and represents a celebration of the New Year according to the solar calendar. The 13th is known as Maha Songkran the day that the sun moves into Aries and was technically the last day of the old year. The 14th is Wan Nao, the transitional day between the old and the new years and the 15th is Wan Thaloeng, the (old) new year’s day!
Traditionally Songkran is celebrated by merit-making, visiting temples, offering monks food, pouring water onto Buddha statues and then pouring of water ritual on the feet of the elderly. Reverence is also payed to ancestors around the country. It is a lovely, traditional time to be in Thailand.
As the longest holiday period in Thailand the normal Songkran holiday sees hundreds of thousands of Thais returning to their families in addition to vast numbers of tourists who flock in to experience the massive water fights in Bangkok and Pattaya. Bright shirts are worn, and it is generally a happy but very wet period. You either love in or hate it and the number of comments on some of the expat forums indicate that some are not missing it at all! It’s a shame as it is a happy time for all to enjoy. If you don’t like it, stay at home or leave!
The decision to cancel all Songkran celebrations, both Religious and the water fights, was taken several weeks ago as the shutdowns commenced. The Thai Government encouraged people to return to their villages creating a mass exodus leaving Bangkok and Pattaya as ghost cities. Many feared that these returnees would bring the virus with them to their rural homes, but this appears to have not been the case. Some cities/regions are in lockdown and there is a virtual countrywide ban on alcohol sales until the end of the month. Some may wonder why, but as Songkran is a time of celebration vast quantities are generally consumed in these days, probably a wise decision and anything that will prevent the spread of this terrible virus has to be a good decision.
Therefore, no celebrations, just memories of parties from years before and hopefully in years to come. The new short that I bought on sale in the UK in December will have to wait for another, better year.
You can see my previous article about Songkran 2019 here
The situation in Thailand, as of today is a total of 2,579 Covid-19 patients with 28 new cases from yesterday, sadly 40 people have lost their lives but happily 1288 people are reported as recovered. Chonburi/Pattaya has registered no new cases for the last two days. Thailand’s first case of the virus was registered on January 13th.
Stay safe, maintain social distancing and see you at Songkran next year!
Kim Waddoup enjoyed a lifetime in the tourism business and is an active ‘Silver-Ager” living in Thailand. He writes for his age group with high varied articles covering subjects relevant to retirees living in, or visiting Thailand.
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