Not that it made much difference, but the calming effect on the
annual pollution problems of the Songkran water wars was rendered rather
less essential by storms and rain, scattering much-needed moisture around
the city and its outlying areas during the festivities.
young bucketeer in search of a willing target.
The ban on vehicles driving on the moat road during the three-day
celebrations seems to have got lost in the telling - ensuring that the
thousands of pick-up trucks, cars, small lorries, etc, all loaded with
people and water, enjoyed their usual crazy, fun-filled New Year, along with
motorcyclists and huge crowds of very wet pedestrians!
The celebrations began with the merit-making ceremony at Thapae Gate, led by
the governor of the province, Amornphan Nimanant, and continued with the
traditional Buddhist parade of the Phra Buddha Sihing image around the inner
city area, allowing residents to sprinkle water in love and respect on this,
one of the holiest Buddha images in Chiang Mai. Other highly respected
Buddha images, from many Chiang Mai temples, were also paraded, and
worshippers brought their own images and amulets to be sprinkled with Nam
Khamin and Sompoi holy water. The procession began at the governor’s
residence and ended at Wat Phra Singh’s Woramahaviharn.
A traditional Lanna market (Kad Mua) was held at Thapae Gate, where
residents could also enjoy a Lanna Khantoke meal. During the whole of the
three-day celebrations, the sound and sight of fireworks and fire-crackers
added to the excitement and fun.
Another parade with beautiful young women riding bicycles and carrying
colourful umbrellas, and, of course, the traditional Miss Songkran beauty
contest, confirmed this unique festival as a true representation of the
culture and tradition of the ancient Lanna kingdom, still loved and
remembered by all in the modern world of the 21st century.
Although this year’s Songkran was quieter and less busy than normal,
everyone who was there must surely have noticed the welcome lack of violence
and unpleasant behaviour, usually due to alcohol, which had marred previous
years’ celebrations. The moat itself, its water beautifully cleaned up in
preparation, played host to large numbers of overheated residents and
children, splashing , yelling, swimming and replenishing their supplies of
water for the next round of throwing - hundreds of stalls lined the roadside
as usual …all that was missing was the aggression.
(Above & Below): Chiang Mai’s streets were
with throngs of people in party mood.
According to a (fairly) new farang resident in the city, “Songkran never
fails to impress. Despite the reduction in tourist numbers this year the
event has been a great success with Thais and foreigners alike partying each
day with an unequalled atmosphere of fun and friendliness. The closure to
traffic of Huay Kaew Road from 2 p.m. onwards allowed more people to dance
in front of the big stages towards the moat area, creating a great concert
the Songkran road block.
“Many bars around the moat had dancers outside, making a good target for the
large quantities of water thrown from passing trucks. Two memorable places
were Lucky Bar (with a dance podium made up of Thais and Farang boys, girls,
gays and lady boys), and the Rastafarian Bar with Bob Marley music.
“The organisers should be commended on their organisation. The moat was as
clean as it could be and each evening litter trucks were in evidence
clearing up in readiness for the for the following day. The ice-cold water
still makes you jump but you should never miss being in Chiang Mai for
Thanks, Roger, and may you enjoy many more Songkran festivals in your
A Chiang Mai resident, happily joining in the water-throwing at the moat,
told our reporter that he had almost ignored the previous few days’
political shenanigans, saying, “I did not pay any attention to the red-shirt
issue. Since this time is Thailand’s New Year’s Festival, as a Thai I did
not want to get a headache by thinking about politics. We don’t want to lose
our Thai traditions or our culture. Right now, it’s time for the festival
and the celebrations.”
A new look for the New Year?
Standing room only on this pick-up truck.
A huge crowd of Chiang Mai residents and
visitors party away in front of the Kad Suan Kaew shopping centre in Huey