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Festivals & Ceremonies


Songkran (Thai New year)

songkran If you like a New Year's party, Thailand is the place for you. Samui's people are blessed with no less than three annual opportunities to ring in a new year with their European friends on January 1st, with their Chinese friends in early February, and on April 13, which has for centuries marked the first day of of the traditional Thai solar calendar. This last celebration is called Songkran, and it is one of the most joyous occasions in The Kingdom.

The word Songkran comes from the Sanskrit words for "New Year", and the Thai celebration was probably imported with major aspects of Indian culture over 2,500 years ago.

songkran Songkran in Thailand is a holiday primarily dedicated to the family, and tourists may notice a much slimmer staff manning the restaurants and hotels as every employee who is able goes home to spend the day with his or her relatives.

Back in the provinces huge meals are pre-pared, homes are fastidiously cleaned, and sacred altars and images respectfully washed. Family members who are scattered for the rest of the year by employment or marriage come together to renew their bonds and exchange gossip. Perhaps the most lovely rite associated with Songkran is the wai khon gaa ceremony, where whole neighborhoods will line up to pour water over the hands of the community's two oldest members, giving and receiving blessings for the coming year.

songkran Unfortunately, because over 90% of the Thai people on Samui are originally from other provinces, it is not easy to find these ancient and moving ceremonies here. The most common manifestation of Songkran to be seen on Samui is the practice of sat nam, which means gaining control of large quantities of water, preferably chilled to just below freezing, and an advantageous spot from which to surprise and drench passing unwary pedestrians.

songkran On April 13 every year the streets of every town and village on the island are lined with giggling teenagers armed with and arsenal of water guns, buckets. barrels , dippers, hoses and all manner of delivery vehicle with which to launch their often icy-cold liquid missiles. Only police officers in uniform are immune to attack; everyone else is expected to take their punishment with good humor. It is not uncommon to enter the post office, bank or some other place of business and be greeted by a smiling clerk wearing a sopping wet shirt and tie.

songkran While we may be able to trace the source of the holiday itself, nobody knows for sure why Thai people delight in dousing each other in cold water on Songkran day, or why it is apparently even more fun to douse strangers, especially foreign strangers. What is obvious is that the practice of throwing water around on one of the hottest days of the year releases tensions, cooling the head along with the body. And during this day a visitor has only two choices, 1) hide in his room or 2)join in the fun and sling a little water of his own.

Loy Krathong (Light festival) Loy Krathong : have floats, will dazzle
loy krathong Thailand's waterways rivers, klongs, even hotel swimming pools will be ablaze with dazing lights on an evening in November when the Kingdom celebrates "Loy Krathong", one of the year's most-awaited festivals. The annual festival, also celebrated in other neighboring countries, is held on the full moon day of the 12th lunar month. Thais place great importance in this event and while the best celebrations are said to be held in Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Sukhothai and Chiangmai,  the event is marked with great funfair all over the Kingdom. krathong The festival is believed to have its beginnings, at least in Thailand, in Sukhothai Province, north of Bangkok, almost 800 years ago. A stone inscription from the Sukhothai Period describes an ancient Loy Krathong festival : "There are four main gates in the city of Sukhothai. On festive occasions, people jam the city to witness the light festival in progress. It's as if the city would burst."
When the ancient Sukhothai city was restored to its former splendor as the Historical Park of Sukhothai, efforts were made to bring back ancient festivals and their legendary festive atmosphere. This brought back the light festival of Loy Krathong. It has remained a major attraction since. "Loy" means to float, and "krathong" means a leaf cup. This moniker seems apt as most floating objects you see during Loy Krathong nights are flowers formed like cups, if not artificial petals that look like cups in many angles.
It is a most colorful festival. In most areas where it is celebrated, you will see Thai women resplendent in colorful attire, hair festooned with flowers, and gaily-dressed men, also fully garbed, gather with floats in their hands wherever there's water.luy krathong
loy krathong As the krathongs meander while making their way downstream, you'll often see little boys swim to them to retrieve the tiny cargo of coins before releasing them down the "river of no return".
Explanation of the festival's significance vary. One belief is that as the floats embark on their journey, they take with it the owner's misfortunes. Most Thais also believe the floating of the krathong is a yearly sloughing off of all the sins and calamities that have befallen a person.

krathong On a lighter note, it's also believed that lovers can forecast the fortune of their romance by watching their krathong float downstream to gather.

Krathongs that remain together into the darkness, promise life-long partnership. This custom's religious significance is somewhat debatable, though. Some say Loy Krathong is an act of remission to the goddess Mae Khongkha, the mother of water.
Western psychologists say it symbolizes the egg's prenatal consciousness of its journey of the ovary down the fallopian tube to conception, a legend (for explanation) quite common to Eastern and Western cultures. The Biblical story of Moses in the Bulrushes is similar.
Whatever its significance, you shouldn't fail to watch or join in a Loy Krathong festival for a once in a life time experience. Check out the hotels or your travel agent for a schedule.

Loy Krathong Song

 thai music
Thai version
Wan Pen Duan Sip Song
Nam Koh Nong Tem Taling
Rao Tanglai Shai Ying
Sanuk Ganjing Wan Loy Krathong
Loy Loy Krathong
Loy Loy Kratong,
Loy Krathong Gan Laew
Koh Shern Nong Kaew
Ook Ma Ram Wong
Ram Wong Wan Loy Krathong
Ram Wong Wan Loy Krathong
Boon Ja Song Hai Rao Suk Jai
Boon Ja Song Hai Rao Suk Jai
Engligh version
November full moon shine
Loy Krathong
Loy Krathong
And the water high
In the gold river and the Klong
Loy Loy Krathong
Loy Loy Krathong
Loy Krathong is here
And everybody full of cheer
We're together at the Klong
Each one with his Krathong
As we push away we pray,
We can see a better day

The New Year's Day

The International New Year Day has been adopted. On the first of January, people offer food to monks at the temple or at a particular site designated by government offices of private organizations. In Bangkok, the Phramaane ground and the lawn in front of the district offices are popular places.
The New Year's Day for the Thais is the day to male merit and to offer good wishes to those one loves and respects. In the past, people went to ask for blessing from their elders. At present, New Year cards are sent instead and gifts are given too. This is certainly the influence of Western culture, which is well received among the Thais.

The Traditional New Year Celebration

This is also called "Trut" celebration. Trut means "to be cut" or "to end". So this simply indicates that a year has come to the end, according to the lunar calendar adopted from the Indians. The ceremony covers the last two days of the old year and the first day of the new year. The ceremony began during the Sukhothai period and lasted until the reign of King Rama V. Later, it was combined with the Songkran festival. Trut is celebrated separately only in some rural villages.
Like in most ceremonies, people make merit by offering food to monks and going to listen to a sermon at the temple. The purpose is to have a good start for a new period in life and to preserve an old Thai tradition.

The "Sart" Festival

sart festival "Sart" is derived from an Indian word meaning autumn or the fall season. It falls on the end of the tenth lunar month. In India this is the time for the harvesting of grains and fruit and thus a time to rejoice. Originally, this was a Brahministic festival but now it is celebrated in the Buddhist wat, i.e., the main activity involves the making of merit to monks.
However, the tenth lunar month is not harvesting time in Thailand. So farmers usually plant a special type of glutinous rice which can be reaped at this time to make "flat rice" of "khow mow", a main ingredient in the preparation of "Krayasart", a type of dessert very similar to granola bar with peanuts. There are also other types of sweet made from rice. All these special delicacies for the festival are to be offered first to monks for merit-making and then enjoyed by the people.


Ceremonies organized by the government

  • Ploughing Ceremony
    ploughing ceremonyThis ceremony is intended to demonstrate the significance of the rice farming occupation as well as to boost the morale of farmers all over the country. During the ceremony the Farming Lord, or Phraya Raek Na, will plough a piece of land designated on the Phramane Ground near the Grand Palace to signal the beginning of the ploughing season. He will also offer and assortment of food to the cows used in the ceremony. The choice of food made serves as a basis for the forecast of the amount of rainfalls and the prospect of the rice harvest.
    The ceremony, performed now early in May of every year, is not much different from the one performed in the old days.
    It is only simplified. The origin of the ceremony certainly is Brahminism .
    The Phraya Raek Na at the present time is usually the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture. Those who attend the ceremonies include not only Thai and foreign dignitaries but also farmers, who often try to collect the rice seeds sown on to the field during the ceremony. They believe that these rice seeds are sacred and will bring blessing to their fields if they are mixed with the regular seeds they have themselves prepared for the season.
  • Celebration of the Constitution Day
    The Constitution Day is the 10th of December, which is the anniversary of the day King Rama VII granted the First Constitution of Thailand to his people in 1932

Royal ceremonies

These are ceremonies which are organized jointly by the government and the Office of the Royal Household according to tradition which has been passed on through generations.

  • Coronation Day
    This falls on the 5th of May the anniversary of the day His Majesty King Bhumibol ascended to the throne. Usually His Majesty would make merit to monks in the Grand Palace in honor of the deceased monarchs of the Chakri Dynasty.
  • His Majesty’s Birthday Anniversary
    This falls on the 5th of December. It is also considered the Thai National Day
  • Her Majesty’s Birthday Anniversary
    This falls on the 12th of August.
    On these auspicious occasion, their Majesties the King and the Queen would make merit according to the royal tradition.
    The Thai people always join in the celebration by organizing special events and performances to express their love and gratitude to Their Majesties.

Festivals & Public Holidays (Overview)

1 January New Year's Day
Celebrations for the start of the new year
10 January Children's Day
On the second Saturday in January every year, there is a special celebration for children. Many places let children go in free or half price on this day.
16 January Teacher's Day
On the 16th January every year, all of the schools in Thailand are closed for the day as a special tribute to the teachers.
11 February Makha Buchaa Day
The full moon of the third lunar month marks the occasion when 1250 of the Buddha's disciples came to hear him preach. This day is a public holiday.
28 February Chinese New Year
2 April HRH The Princess's Birthday
6 April Chakri Day
A public holiday, commemorating King Rama I who was the first of the Chakri kings.
April Songkran Festival
During April 13-15, everyone celebrates the traditional Thai new year. In every home, Buddha images are washed with rose scented water. People also pay respects to their elders by pouring a little water over their hands. Outside, people go a little wilder and buckets of water are thrown over everything that moves.
1 May National Labor Day
A holiday for some factory and office workers.
5 May Coronation Day
A public holiday to commemorate the coronation of the king and queen in 1946.
11 May Ploughing Day
An important ceremony to mark the official start of the rice-planting season.
17 May Visakha Bucha Day
The full moon of the sixth lunar month is the most important date on the Buddhist religious calendar. It celebrates the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death. Every year on this day, teachers from our school take part in a candle-lit procession around the main chapel of a local temple. They carry with them flowers, three incense sticks and a lighted candle. They walk around the chapel three times in a clock-wise direction. Afterwards they listen to a sermon from a monk. This day is also a public holiday.
19 July Khao Phansa Day
Buddhist holiday
28 July HRH The Crown Prince's Birthday
12 August HM The Queen's Birthday
Celebrations for the Queen's birthday. This day is also Mother's Day and a public holiday.
23 October Chulalongkorn Day
A public holiday, on 23rd October,to commemorate King Rama V who did a lot of important things for Thailand. His many accomplishments include the abolition of slavery, the construction of the railways, the establishment of the post and telegraph services and the creation of the ministerial system.
3 November Loy Krathong
The most picturesque of the Thai festivals is held on the full-moon of the 12th lunar month. Little candle-lit krathongs are launched onto the water as an offering to Mother Water. People apologize for polluting the water and promise to do better in the future.
5 December HM The King's Birthday
Celebrations for the King's birthday. This day is also Father's Day and a public holiday.
10 December Constitution Day
A public holiday to commemorate the start of the constitutional monarchy in1932.
31 December New Year's Eve
Celebrations to welcome the start of the new year.

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