Buddhism is a religion that preaches serenity and spiritual development to enlighten oneself. It is the religion to a lot of people around the globe and it boasts of a complex and intricate system of believes that aim at purifying the soul. Buddhist festivals always spell joy and enchant those who celebrate with a feeling of contentment. One such festival is the Songkran.
The word Songkran is derived from Sanskrit, the mother of all languages. It means ‘Astrological Passage’. The Sun is said to move into Aries of the zodiac signs. Countries where Buddhists are many in number like China, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos, Yunnan and Thailand celebrate their New Year on this day. Earlier, the dates were decided according to the astrological calendar by Brahmin priests. Later the dates evolved to be fixed in the middle of April, from 13 to 15. This festival is supposed to wash away all evil and purify the world. This is also to remind each and every one to respect and love their parents for all the sacrifices and care they have showered throughout their lives.
Houses are cleaned and washed. The statues of Buddha are washed and lightly sprinkled with perfume. This tradition is said to bring good luck. This festival is also known as the Water Festival. The tradition was to pour a little water on another person’s hand to show a sign of respect. This soon turned out to be a water splashing festival greatly enjoyed and looked forward to by people of all ages, especially the youth. This brings much needed relief during the hot month of April. Gratitude to elders is expressed by gifting them with precious tokens of love and affection.
On the first day, known as Wan Sungkharn Long, Buddhists visit monks and offer special prayers. It is customary to offer food to Buddhist monks on this day. All the cleaning also takes place on this particular day. It is a belief that all evil is washed out with the dirt.
On the second day, also known as Wan Nao, Buddhists build miniature towers with sand and decorated with flags in the monastery. This is to signify the return of the dust they have walked away with in the past year. Statues which are considered very special and sacred are brought out on this day for the devotees to worship.
The third day is the official New Year. The fun with water begins on this day. Talc is also thrown about joyfully. Colorful parades are also organized that leave the tourists absolutely awestruck. The places where these celebrations take place are literally war zones of water filled with laughing warriors totally enjoying themselves and welcoming the New Year with arms wide open. The cities are filled with tourists and locals leading to heavy traffic and accidents during this time of the year.
After the celebrations are over, Buddhists return home with peace that all evil has been washed away and a fresh start is about to be made with the blessings of Lord Buddha himself.