Wikipedia: "The throwing of water originated as a way to pay respect to people, by capturing the water after it had been poured over the Buddhas for cleansing and then using this "blessed" water to give good fortune to elders and family by gently pouring it on the shoulder." Today, it's pretty much grab a water- gun/hose/bucket/chunk of ice and throw it on anyone who may decide to cross your path. Thais refer to the celebration as "playing Songkran" (it's pretty obvious why) and although it's a nationwide celebration, the real place to party is up north in Chiang Mai where people play Songkran for a whopping 6 days.
So what are the rules for playing Songkran? In my humble opinion...
- Be prepared. If you go outside, you will get wet. Mai pen rai, don't get mad, get even. Be ready with a waterproof bag to protect your money/phone/camera, and don't wear anything that can't handle a little, ok a lot, of water.
- Be armed. Don't expect people to be nice to you because you are unarmed. You're going to need a weapon. Emily, Amy and I pretty much bought the first set of water-guns we laid eyes on when we got off the plane, but they were not of high quality and only lasted about 25 minutes before they started to leak more water than they could spray. My next weapon of choice? A bucket. The perfect tool for grabbing some of the muddy canal water and tossing it to the crowd.
- Be creative. The party pretty much stops at night, but you can never be too sure when you round a corner that there won't be someone waiting to douse you with water. The last night of Songkran, the party was still raging when we decided to head out to dinner so we made some mad dashes across streets, down alleyways, and entered a restaurant from the back entrance crossing an abandoned parking lot in order to avoid getting wet.
- Have fun. Songkran is a celebration unlike anything I've ever participated in, in America or any other country I've traveled to. If you can't have fun in a giant water fight when it's 100 degrees outside, we're probably not meant to be friends. Thai people know how to have a good time, and taking part in this celebration is seriously one of my favorite experiences in my 25 years on Earth. Being able to take part in this nationwide party, and watching Thai people turn an entire city into their personal playground, is a beautiful thing. Sanuk mak mak!
Now for some visuals: