The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is announcing details of the 2016’s Songkran celebrations and the special activities including the “Songkran Splendours: The Procession of Three Kingdoms” grand opening ceremony to be held in Bangkok on 10 April, 2016. It is expected that this year’s Songkran celebrations will be the biggest ever staged in the kingdom.
Mr. Visanu Jaroensilp, TAT Deputy Governor for Tourism Products and Business said, “The grand Songkran celebrations arranged for 2016 will be the biggest to date, as we want to give visitors a true taste of how the Thai New Year festival is celebrated in different parts of the kingdom and how these celebrations have changed over time. The opening ceremony in Bangkok will showcase Thailand’s cultural diversity and the heritage of each region so that Thai and foreign visitors can plan their trips accordingly and choose where in Thailand to celebrate.”
The parades will showcase some of the cultural elements of the unique Maha Songkran processions while telling some of the stories and myths behind the Thai New Year. Spectators will have the chance to learn how the Songkran celebration has changed over the years and from region to region. The Procession of Three Kingdoms will showcase the glory of the Kingdom of Rama III and celebrate wondrous creatures from Thai mythology as depicted on the walls of Wat Pho. The Kingdom of Rama V the Great procession will focus on 13 April, which is known as the Songkran Day in Thailand and celebrate its traditions. Finally the Kingdom of Rama VII procession will showcase how Songkran celebrations have spread around the world.
Following the three-kingdom processions, there will be a colourful parade of Songkran traditions from five regions of Thailand. Representing the North is Lampang’s Salung Luang, where Buddha images are paraded around the streets to bring blessings. From the Northeast is the procession of ‘Dok Mai’ trees, which are made in the grounds of Loei’s temples and decorated brightly with flowers and bells to celebrate Songkran. From the Central Region will be a cultural procession from Ratchaburi that celebrates the ancient culture and traditions of Thailand’s Mon people. The Eastern region’s offering will be a parade of Si Maharaja Rice towers from Chon Buri province, built to propagate the gods at New Year. Finally from the Southern region will be a Nang Dan procession from Nakhon Si Thammarat, which celebrates the three main gods of the Hindu pantheon.
The “Songkran Splendours: The Procession of Three Kingdoms” event will open into the nationwide celebration of Songkran. TAT will be giving its support to stage grand events in several major tourist destinations including Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Kanchanaburi, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Phanom, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Ayutthaya, Suphan Buri, Nong Khai, Chon Buri, Khon Kaen, Phuket, Songkhla (Hat Yai), and Surat Thani (Ko Samui).
Mr. Visanu said, “TAT has also launched a campaign to promote Thainess and water saving during this year’s Songkran celebration. We are encouraging both the Thai people and our visitors to join us in upholding the true taste of how Songkran is celebrated traditionally. This includes making merit and listening to temple sermons, purifying or bathing Buddha statues, and pouring water onto the hands of elders to show respect and seek their New Year blessings.
We would also like to urge revellers to wear proper attire or traditional Thai costumes or fabric, and to just sprinkle scented water over each other instead of throwing water aggressively or using high-pressure water guns. We believe this will help engage everyone to collaborate in helping to preserve Thailand’s unique cultural heritage for years to come.”
TAT expects the 2016 Songkran celebration to attract 2.64 million travellers, including 2.14 million Thai (up 2 per cent) and 495,000 foreign travellers (up 26 per cent), and generate 15 billion Baht for the Thai economy, representing a year-on-year increase of 18 per cent.