New York State celebrates Songkran

New York State Representative Steven Raga on left, photo by Thai Post.

The state of New York in the US officially celebrated Songkran this year. New York State Representative Steven Raga proposed a bill to celebrate the Thai Songkran festival, the Thai Post reported.

Raga wrote a letter to the leaders of the Thai and Asian communities in New York, informing them of the successful resolution to celebrate the festival.

Several New York officials attended the Songkran festival held on April 12 in New York City’s ‘Little Thailand’ neighbourhood.

Photos show people dressed in colourful, traditional Thai outfits, performing dances, and of course, chowing down on delicious food.

Asian communities in the US are thriving, with many Thais and other Asians working in government and private sectors, and holding higher positions in these organisations. In the country’s Democrat Party, Senator Tammy Duckworth is of Thai heritage.

Thai-Americans have particularly been making their mark in New York. In July last year, New York City’s city council approved a bill to name one neighbourhood ‘Little Thailand.’ The neighbourhood, located in the borough of Queens, was already called this name informally, as it has several Thai restaurants and businesses.

The only other Thai neighbourhood in the US that is officially recognised by its name is ‘Thai Town’ in Los Angeles. The neighbourhood was designated under this name in 1999 by Los Angeles City Council. Now that ‘Little Thailand’ is a possibility, it seems that Thai Americans are proudly spreading their heritage across the US.

Songkran is the Thai New Year’s festival and is also known as the water festival. The word Songkran comes from the Sanskrit language and means ‘astrological passage’ or ‘transformation.’ The festival is celebrated from April 13 to 15 every year, although the duration can be longer in some areas. It is a time of year when Thai people traditionally pay respect to their elders, perform merit-making activities, and visit temples.

This year, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) anticipates that both Thai and foreign tourists will contribute up to 18.53 billion baht during the three-day event. Meanwhile, the Kasikorn Research Centre estimates that Thai tourists alone could spend as much as 23 billion baht.

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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