The traditional Songkran New Year that will begin tomorrow is not only an occasion for water splashing fun to beat the April heat. It is also time to think of family, and return to one's hometown and celebrate one's roots.
This festival is celebrated not only in Thailand but also in our neighbouring countries east and west, and in southern China, where the ethnic Dai share close cultural ties with northern Thais. In the wake of heated border conflicts with Cambodia and immigration chaos with Myanmar, the fact that Songkran brings our countries the same joy should remind us of our long cultural ties that preceded the advent of national borders.
When ethnocentric nationalism has become a source of domestic and regional conflicts, Songkran should also help us see through this false, dangerous belief. Ethnocentric nationalism is based on the conviction that the country is culturally homogeneous and owned by the pure-blooded natives. That the rest are outsiders who do not and should not have an equal say with the locals, which gives rise to various forms of human rights violations.
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