Thailand revels in water-splashing Songkran festival
By Zhang Chunxiao, Ming Dajun, Yang Yunyan
CHIANG MAI, Thailand, April 14 (Xinhua) -- Days before the Songkran festival, or the Thai New Year, Chen Xin and her friends flew directly from Beijing to the city of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, for the sole purpose of getting the most fun out of the water-splashing occasion. "Chiang Mai is a best place for celebrating the festival as people here are most engaged and know how to do it right,"said Chen, a 26-year-old media worker in China.
She stays at a hotel within walking distance from Tha Pae Gate, a landmark in Chiang Mai which locals and foreign tourists flock to for the Songkran carnival. "It is impossible to walk to Tha Pae without getting all wet, from head to toe. We packed a lot of clothes, only to find them far from enough,"Chen said.
Alleys, especially those leading to Tha Pae Gate, have become" water war zones." People attack one another, strangers or friends alike, with water canons, buckets and even hoses.
In Thai traditions, water is considered as a symbol of purity, joy and prosperity. During Songkran, a most significant Thai occasion that lasts from April 13 to 15, people are accustomed to splashing water on others to rinse away misfortune and vice.
Most of the time, Tha Pae Gat is packed with holiday revelers of different ages and nationalities. A late-comer can barely squeeze in. Stages are set up there, with music played out loud. All soaked, people keep laughing and dancing.
Around 470,000 tourists from overseas are projected to visit Thailand around Songkran, generating 7.5 billion baht (231 million U.S. dollars) in revenue, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Outside Chiang Mai, Songkran is also being celebrated in every other corner of Thailand, with equal, if not more, passion.
In capital Bangkok, major water-fight zones like Khaosan road and Silom road are crammed with Thais and foreign visitors, many in festive costumes.
Vendors who lined both sides of Silom road are selling a variety of Songkran-related products, including water cannons, buckets, waterproof bags, goggles, beverage and ready-to-eat food.
More than 2,000 police officers have reportedly been deployed to maintain security and order at Khaosan and Silom roads.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha earlier called on all Thais to behave properly in celebratory activities and preserve the beauty of Songkran.
Besides Thailand, Songkran is also celebrated in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and southern China.
Homecoming and family get-togethers, giving food offerings to monks and releasing fish and birds are also important Songkran rituals.
Most of senior Thais hope their children and grandchildren would visit them during the Songkran festival, a recent survey by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University showed.