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Chapter 19 The World’s Largest Water Fight, or the Battle for the Soul of a Festival,Songkran in Thailand and South East Asia

DOI: 10.23912/978-1-910158-55-5-3011

ISBN: 978-1-910158-55-5

Published: February 2016

Component type: chapter

Published in: Focus on World Festivals

Parent DOI: 10.23912/978-1-910158-55-5-2822



The Songkran Festival in Thailand, although not an indigenous festival, has become the most popular one in the region with tourists, which is why people around the world have assumed that it was originally from Thailand. Traditionally it is a time for reunions, house cleaning and Buddhist rituals and observances, however, it is water that is at the heart of Songkran. Water is celebrated as a blessing and is given as a sign of respect; festival participants sprinkle, splash or douse each other with water as an act of cleansing and good wishes. Traditionally in Thailand Din Sor Pong (white powder) or coloured powders are smeared on the celebrants’ faces, representing the sins of the past which can then be washed away by the water pitched at them by close relatives, friends or other revellers. This traditional lunar new year festival is celebrated by many of the bordering countries including Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Yunnan Province China where the new year festival is variously known as Chaul Chnam Thumey in Cambodia, Thingyuan in Myanmar, and Pbee Mai Lao in Laos. For the Dai people in the Dehong area of southern Yunnan Province of China it is called Shangkran or Shangjian, pointing to its common Buddhist roots with Songkran in Thailand. As we shall see, the festival has become an important tourist attraction for these countries, but nowhere is it more exuberantly celebrated and enthusiastically marketed than in Thailand.

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  • Chris Newbold (Author)

For the source title:

  • Chris Newbold, De Montfort University (Editor)
  • Jennie Jordan, De Montfort University (Editor)

Cite as

Newbold, 2016

Newbold, C. (2016) "Chapter 19 The World’s Largest Water Fight, or the Battle for the Soul of a Festival,Songkran in Thailand and South East Asia" In: Newbold, C. & Jordan, J. (ed) . Oxford: Goodfellow Publishers http://dx.doi.org/10.23912/978-1-910158-55-5-3011


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