Songkran is a one-week Nation-wide festival, generally viewed by Foreigners as a continuous chaotic water-fight.
It wasn't always that way and, in up-country villagers such as the one where I now live, The rituals of Songkran may still be seen much as shown in this composite scene.
Here you can see monks overlooking, and sometime directing, activities that generally involve a strengthening of community bonds. On the right, a man and a woman are gently dousing a Buddha icon in sweetly scented water, while murmuring wishes for good luck, a reliable monsoon season and a bountiful rice harvest. The group on the left are participating in [what I think is] an ancient Khmer Ritual celebrating the fertility of the soil.
The whole of our Village comes together at Songkran, meeting under a specially erected Sala [wall-less roofed shelter], meeting for most of a night and the following day...monks attend twice, and offer chants for about 2 hours, and receive various alms and gifts from the people...land is dug from South, West and North of the Sala, and carried to the East where it is mounded high, formed into a sand-castle and decorated with bright flowers from village gardens [when the monks are not present I see numerous rituals that I might describe as totemistic or pagan]...people bring lots of food to share, and someone [perhaps Na] pays for the local ice-cream maker to bring his cart and offer "free" ice-creams to everyone...good-fortune flags are raised on tall bamboo poles, accompanied by loud chants and whoops. There is a bit of water-pistol action around the fringes.
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