Seeking Songkran Blessings
Songkran Festival marks the start of the traditional Thai New Year. Apart from water splashing, celebrations and family reunions, many Thai people perform rituals to show respect to and seek blessings from their ancestors, elders and Buddha images. Here is the list of interesting places and sacred ceremonies for you to celebrate the Thai New Year.
Paying respect to the Navagraha statues.
Bangkok: All are welcome to pour scented water on an important Buddha statue, Phra Hai Sok (Deprivation Of Sadness) and the statues of the Navagraha, the nine celestial influencers, at Samran Mookkhamart Pavilion of the Bangkok National Museum on April 12-14 from 9am to 4pm. The nine deities are Phra Arthit (Sun), Phra Chandra (Moon), Phra Angkhan or Mangala (Mars), Phra Buddha (Mercury), Phra Brihaspati (Jupiter), Phra Shukra (Venus), Phra Sao or Shani (Saturn), Phra Rahu and Phra Ketu. The first day of the Songkran festival, called Maha Songkran Day, is the day Phra Arthit moves from Pisces to Aries. The next day is called Wan Nao, or Songkran Day, and the last day of the festival is called Wan Thaleung Sok, meaning the start of the New Year.
Chiang Mai: Until the end of this month, the Chiang Mai National Museum will host the “Pay Homage to Nine Buddha Images and the Buddha’s Relics on the Lanna New Year” activity during official hours from Wednesday to Sunday. The nine Buddha statues are highly revered by northern people. Three Phra Singha statues bring power to worshippers. A gemstone statue called Phra Kaeo brings strength, Phra Bua Khem safety and good fortune, Phra Phaisatchayakhuru good health and Phra Chao Thunjai success.
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Nong Bua Lam Phu: Until April 15, the “Walking Up the Mountain to Worship the Buddha Statue in Erawan Cave” festival will take place at Wat Tham Erawan in Na Wang district, Nong Bua Lam Phu province.
In front of Erawan Cave, or Tham Chang, is a Buddha statue named Phra Buddha Chaisri Maha Munee Lokkanart. Inside the cave are stalactites and stalagmites in strange shapes. During this period of time, local villagers will make khan mak beng (trays with pedestals, decorated with folded banana leaves and flowers) and take them in a procession to the cave by walking 600 steps up a staircase. There will also be a khan mak beng-making contest, a beauty contest, a banana eating contest and the sale of local products.
Loei: From April 13-16, the Songkran festival and Procession of Ton Dokmai, bamboo wood towers decorated with flowers and bai sri (beautifully folded banana leaf-made containers), will take place at Wat Sri Phochai Saeng Pha in Na Haeo district.
On April 13, local villagers will pour scented water on Buddha statues and the elderly to seek blessings. At 7pm, a tree of religious items, such as saffron robes, will be presented to monks who will pray.
On April 14, Ton Dokmai will be prepared for a procession. Inside each tower will be lit candles and incense sticks. A Ton Dokmai making contest will be held as well. Every night on April 14-16, the procession of Ton Dokmai will be performed around the ordination hall of the temple from 7pm to 9pm.
On April 16, the ceremony to declare the New Year will be held in the afternoon.
Nong Khai: Until April 18, the procession of the province’s Buddha statue, Luang Phor Sai, at Wat Pho Chai will be held around the town of Nong Khai with the Wian Thian candle ceremony, traditional dances and sermons at the temple. In addition, there will be a parade of rice, a sand pagoda building contest and a Nang Songkran beauty contest.
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