Happy Songkran (Thai New Year) (Apr. 20)

April 18, 2008

Earlier this week you might have seen news images of tourists hoisting SuperSoakers in Thailand, where the traditional new year was celebrated April 13 to 15 with much throwing of water to symbolize ritual bathing. I hope those tourists also participated in some of the customs that are less about public spectacle, like giving alms in monasteries. Here in St. Louis I didn’t see any water being thrown, but there is a Songkran festival on Sunday (Apr. 20) where the public is invited to celebrate in the Buddhist monastery in Florissant. The Wat Phrasriratanaram is at 890 Lindsay Road; for details call 314.839.3115.

There’s a schedule of events at the temple’s Web site, starting with prayers and ritual chants in the morning. Lunch is at noon (authentic Thai food for sale — yummy!) followed by a Klong yow (long drum) parade. After some speeches by dignitaries, the shows get underway. The first, with traditional dancers in costume accompanied by instruments like the marimba and flute, will probably be the highlight for kids, unless they’re girls who’re into princesses, in which case they might get a big kick out of the day’s final event, the Miss Songkran Beauty Pageant.

สวัสดีปีใหม, or in phoenetic spelling, sa-wat-di pi mai! Happy New Year!

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