So we’re going to have Songkran this year but not as we know it. The CCSA and Public Health Ministry have formally taken the ‘song’ out of Songkran for 2021. They have determined that there won’t be any foam parties, no activities where you get together with all your friends for Songkran activities and no ‘water splashing’, a polite way of saying no water fights, throwing or water pistol battles. The government is promoting traditional Songkran celebrations for 2021 and hoping Thais will head home for a drier celebration than usual and avoid the big water battles that have become the norm over the past few decades.
In 2020 Songkran was put on hold as Thailand was right in the middle of its first series of lockdowns and restrictions in reaction to the Covid pandemic. In last year’s case it was just a total cancellation of Songkran, the Thai new year celebrations. Even most of the cross-provincial travel, as Thais head back home for the April 13 family celebration, was cancelled.
But the CCSA has allowed some Songkran activities. You will still be able to pour water over Buddha and Buddhist statues, enjoy the tradition of gently pouring water on elders in your family and Thai will be able to travel across all provincial borders this year. So less SuperSoakers and more gentle splashing.
But it’s clear the Thai government is wanting to avoid any ‘moist’ skirmishes where families and friends get together for smaller and larger water fights. There would be pick-up trucks filled with barrels of iced water and driven around neighbourhoods drenching their friends and passersby. In the tourist areas like Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai, there were much larger organised activities and the annual celebration of water was becoming somewhat of a tourist mecca for backpackers looking to party, armed with water pistols, eye shields and a pair of sandals.
The ‘back to basics’ Songkran 2021 will be a big disappointment for many people, and another kick in the pants for places like Pattaya and Phuket that would have promoted larger Songkran events, but it may promote a resurgence of the older, and gentler traditions of Songkran. And there will be some expats who will definitely enjoy walking down the streets, or riding their motorbike, on April 13 without having a bucket of cold water thrown at them.
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