Songkran (Thai: เทศกาลสงกรานต์, pronounced [tʰêːt.sā.kāːn sǒŋ.krāːn]) is the Thai New Year's festival. The Thai New Year's Day is 13 April every year, but the holiday period includes 14–15 April as well. The word "Songkran" comes from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti (Devanāgarī: संक्रांति), literally "astrological passage", meaning transformation or change. The term was borrowed from Makar Sankranti, the name of a Hindu harvest festival celebrated in India in January to mark the arrival of spring. It coincides with the rising of Aries on the astrological chart and with the New Year of many calendars of South and Southeast Asia, in keeping with the Buddhist/Hindu solar calendar.
New Year celebration, Rot Nam Dam Hua, a traditional way to celebrate with elders. Most Thai people go back to their hometowns to meet their elders.
|Official name||Songkran Festival|
|Observed by||Thai and Malaysian Siamese|
|Significance||Marks the Thai New Year|
|2017 date||13 April, Rooster|
|2018 date||13 April, Dog|
|2019 date||13 April, Pig|
|2020 date||13 April, Rat|
|Related to||South and Southeast Asian New Years|
Songkran was traditionally computed according to method described in Suriyayart (Thai: สุริยยาตร์), the Thai version of Surya Siddhanta. The celebration starts when the Sun enters Aries according to sidereal zodiac system. This is called Maha Songkran day (Thai: วันมหาสงกรานต์). The final day marks the new solar year and is called Wan Thaloengsok (Thai: วันเถลิงศก). The astrologers, local or royal, then make the prediction on economy, agriculture, rainfall and political affairs according to observations between both days. The king, or chief royal astrologer on his behalf, issued official notification on the new year for members of the public. The announcement, called Prakat Songkran (Thai: ประกาศสงกรานต์, Songkran notification), contained the information on Maha Songkran, Thaloengsok, lunisolar calendar, religious and royal ceremonies. The government strictly adhered to the announcement and arranged some ceremonies according to the computation made by royal astrologer.[n 1] Today, however, the government fixes the feast to 13–15 April for simplicity, possibly without understanding of how this celebration originates and difference in calendar systems.[n 2]
According to the scripture, there are 292,207 days within 800 years[n 3]. In other words, each solar year lasts 292,207 kammaja (Thai: กัมมัช, lit. one produced by karma), where 1 kammaja equals 108 seconds and 800 kammaja corresponds to 1 day. Timekeeping began as Kali Yuga started in 3102 BCE (–3101 CE). At the start of each year, it is possible to compute the number of days since Kali Yuga commenced using following formula
where , , denote Kaliyuga, common and Buddhist era respectively. is Suriyayart day number, which can vary according to the calendar era being used. The integer result is the count of days at new year's day, while the remainder (in kammaja) suggests when the new year will start, which can be other time than midnight.
Owing to huge number of kammajas in calculation, there are many calendar era devised, including Minor Era (ME). 0 ME coresponds to 1181 BE, 638 CE or 3739 KE. Following equation above, it follows that there were 1,365,702 days since the start of Kali Yuga. The remainder of the division suggests that the new year started at 373 kammaja after midnight. This corresponds to 373/800 day or 11 hours 11 minutes and 24 seconds. In other words, 0 ME started at 11:11:24 of Sunday, 25 March 638 CE in proleptic Gregorian calendar. To compute Julian day at new year, following formula is computed,
then the number is converted back into date using Julian day algorithm (see Julian day). Maha Songkran day is computed either by lengthy process or by substracting by 2.165 days (2 days 3 hours 57 minutes 36 seconds). This can be rewritten as
Solar year lasts 292,207 kammajas or 365.25875 days every year. However, Gregorian year lasts, on average, 292194 kammajas respectively.[n 4] The difference of 13 kammajas (23 minutes 24 seconds) accumulates every year, causing the shift of Songkran towards the end of calendar year. In 1600, 1700, 1800, 1900 and 2000, Maha Songkran was on 7 April, 9 April, 10 April, 12 April and 13 April respectively.
Nowadays royal palace ceased to issue Songkran notification; they replaced it with a small calendar booklet given to the public on New Year's day. Government Savings Bank still prints a one-page lunisolar calendar, which is different from multiple-page solar calendar commonly seen. The calendar features the image is Songkran goddess with her vehicle and subordinates, led by Chinese zodiac animal holding flag with Thai script for that zodiac. It also contains comprehensive information on the correct Songkran day and religious days. Some astrologers, especially in northern Thailand, still issue their own Songkran notification containing predictions and other information. In 2013, Chiang Mai provincial council decided to defy the government-set holiday by rescheduling the ceremony according to the correct calculation.
Following table lists start and end dates of Songkran festival obtained from the formulae discussed above. Chinese zodiac for each year is also given since it is also used in Thai astrology. However, Chinese zodiac in Chinese astrology changes on Lichun, just before Chinese New Year, in February, while Thai astrology uses first day of fifth lunar month (roughly new moon in late March to early April). Before the cut off date, astrologer uses zodiac of the last year.
|Year||Chinese zodiac||Maha Songkran
|2013||Snake||14 April 2013
|16 April 2013
|2014||Horse||14 April 2014
|16 April 2014
|2015||Goat||14 April 2015
|16 April 2015
|2016||Monkey||13 April 2016
|16 April 2016
|2017||Rooster||14 April 2017
|16 April 2017
|2018||Dog||14 April 2018
|16 April 2018
|2019||Pig||14 April 2019
|16 April 2019
|2020||Rat||13 April 2020
|16 April 2020
|2021||Ox||14 April 2021
|16 April 2021
|2022||Tiger||14 April 2022
|16 April 2022
|2023||Rabbit||14 April 2023
|16 April 2023
The Songkran celebration is rich with symbolic traditions. Mornings begin with merit-making. Visiting local temples and offering food to the Buddhist monks is commonly practiced. On this specific occasion, performing water pouring on Buddha statues and the young and elderly is considered an iconic ritual for this holiday. It represents purification and the washing away of one's sins and bad luck. As a festival of unity, people who have moved away usually return home to their loved ones and elders. Paying reverence to ancestors is also an important part of Songkran tradition.
The holiday is known for its water festival which is mostly celebrated by young people. Major streets are closed to traffic, and are used as arenas for water fights. Celebrants, young and old, participate in this tradition by splashing water on each other. Traditional parades are held and in some venues "Miss Songkran" is crowned.” where contestants are clothed in traditional Thai dress.
Central Region People in this region clean their houses when Songkran approaches. All dress up in colorful clothing or Thai dress. After offering food to the monks, people will offer a requiem to their ancestors. People make merit such offerings as giving sand to the temple for construction or repair. Other forms of merit include releasing birds and fish. Nowadays, people also release other kinds of animals such as buffaloes and cows.
South Southerners have three Songkran rules: Work as little as possible and avoid spending money; do not hurt other persons or animals: do not tell lies.
North In the northern region of Thailand 13 April is celebrated with gunfire or firecrackers to repel bad luck. On the next day, people prepare food and useful things to offer to the monks at the temple. People have to go to temple to make merit and bathe Buddha's statue and after that they pour water on the hands of elders and ask for their blessings.
East The eastern region has activities similar to the other part of Thailand, but people in the east always make merit at the temple throughout all the days of the Songkran Festival and create the sand pagoda. Some people, after making merit at the temple, prepare food to be given to the elderly members of their family.
Songkran is celebrated by the Malaysian Siamese community in the states of Kedah, Kelantan, Penang, Perak, Perlis and Terengganu where most of the community are located. The festival is celebrated as Sangken in northeastern areas of India and in Bizu, Boisuk, Shangrai, and Boisabi in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, as the traditional New Year's Day by the Indigenous people and Buddhist Community. The Sangken festival is celebrated by the people of the Khampti tribe. The festival is also celebrated by Singpho, Khamyang, Tikhaks (Tangsa) and Phakyal community of Arunachal Pradesh, and Tai Phake community of Assam. Sangken generally falls in the month of 'Naun Ha', the fifth month of the year of the Khampti Lunar calendar coinciding with the month of April. It is celebrated in the last days of the old year and the Lunar New Year begins on the day just after the end of the festival.
Vishu, a Hindu religious festival, celebrated mainly in the South Indian State of Kerala (and some parts of Tamil Nadu), also falls during the same timeframe. It is predominantly a harvest festival where 'Kani' or a visual treat is seen as the first view in the morning.
In some villages in south India, especially Karnataka, a festival called "Okhali" or "Okhli" is celebrated in which every household keeps a barrel of water mixed with chalk and turmeric to throw on passers-by. The date of Okhali coincides with that of Songkran in Thailand and Thingyan in Myanmar, not with the dates of Holi, which is a north Indian festival.
Songkran occurs at the same time as that given by Bede for festivals of Eostre—and Easter weekend occasionally coincides with Songkran (most recently 1979, 1990, and 2001, but not again until 2085.)
"Thai people should think about what we want and how we want to promote the image of our country. Do we want to be known as the hub of the water party with booze and a high death toll? Or do we want to be known for having a beautiful culture that no one else has?" —Prommin Kantiya, director of the Accident Prevention Network (APN) 
Police statistics show that the death toll from road accidents doubles during the annual Songkran holiday. Between 2009 and 2013 there were about 27 road deaths per day during non-holiday periods and an average of 52 road deaths per day during Songkran. Thailand has the second-highest traffic fatality rate in the world, with 44 deaths per 100,000 residents. Approximately 70 percent of the accidents that occurred during the long holiday period were motorcycle accidents. About 10,000 people per year die in motorcycle accidents.
During the 2014 Songkran festivities, 322 deaths and 2,992 injuries occurred from 11–17 April. Drunk driving and speeding were the leading causes of accidents, in which most involved were motorcycles and pickup trucks.
During the "seven dangerous days" of the Songkran festivities in 2016, from 11–17 April, 442 persons died and 3,656 were injured in road accidents, up 21.4 percent from 2015. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) says a total of 110,909 people were arrested and 5,772 vehicles impounded at road safety checkpoints across the country between 9–16 April.
In 2014 "Celebrate Singapore," a large two-day Songkran-style water festival, was planned for Singapore and the event was promoted as the "largest water festival party in Singapore". However, controversy emerged when the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Deputy Governor for Tourism Products, Vilaiwan Twichasri, claimed that Thailand holds exclusive rights to celebrate Songkran and planned to consult with officials at the Department of Intellectual Property, Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Culture to discuss a potential lawsuit. The Deputy Governor's view was supported by numerous Thai citizens on social media websites. Chai Nakhonchai, Cultural Promotion Department chief, pointed out that Songkran is a traditional festival shared by many countries throughout Southeast Asia, while historian Charnvit Kasetsiri stated that no single nation can claim ownership of a tradition. On 25 March 2014, the Bangkok Post reported that the Singaporean government had intervened in the festival's content and there would be no water-throwing, no water pistols and no public drinking. The festival was also reduced to a one-day event.
|Gregorian||Date||Animal||Day of the week||Gregorian||Date||Animal||Day of the week|
|2001||13 April||Snake (มะเส็ง)||Friday||2026||13 April||Horse (มะเมีย)||Tuesday|
|2002||13 April||Horse (มะเมีย)||Saturday||2027||13 April||Goat (มะแม)||Thursday|
|2003||13 April||Goat (มะแม)||Sunday||2028||13 April||Monkey (วอก)||Saturday|
|2004||13 April||Monkey (วอก)||Tuesday||2029||13 April||Rooster (ระกา)||Sunday|
|2005||13 April||Rooster (ระกา)||Wednesday||2030||13 April||Dog (จอ)||Monday|
|2006||13 April||Dog (จอ)||Thursday||2031||13 April||Pig (กุน)||Tuesday|
|2007||13 April||Pig (กุน)||Friday||2032||13 April||Rat (ชวด)||Thursday|
|2008||13 April||Rat (ชวด)||Sunday||2033||13 April||Ox (ฉลู)||Friday|
|2009||13 April||Ox (ฉลู)||Monday||2034||13 April||Tiger (ขาล)||Saturday|
|2010||13 April||Tiger (ขาล)||Tuesday||2035||13 April||Rabbit (เถาะ)||Sunday|
|2011||13 April||Rabbit (เถาะ)||Wednesday||2036||13 April||Dragon (มะโรง)||Tuesday|
|2012||13 April||Dragon (มะโรง)||Friday||2037||13 April||Snake (มะเส็ง)||Wednesday|
|2013||13 April||Snake (มะเส็ง)||Saturday||2038||13 April||Horse (มะเมีย)||Thursday|
|2014||13 April||Horse (มะเมีย)||Sunday||2039||13 April||Goat (มะแม)||Friday|
|2015||13 April||Goat (มะแม)||Monday||2040||13 April||Monkey (วอก)||Sunday|
|2016||13 April||Monkey (วอก)||Wednesday||2041||13 April||Rooster (ระกา)||Monday|
|2017||13 April||Rooster (ระกา)||Thursday||2042||13 April||Dog (จอ)||Tuesday|
|2018||13 April||Dog (จอ)||Friday||2043||13 April||Pig (กุน)||Wednesday|
|2019||13 April||Pig (กุน)||Saturday||2044||13 April||Rat (ชวด)||Friday|
|2020||13 April||Rat (ชวด)||Monday||2045||13 April||Ox (ฉลู)||Saturday|
|2021||13 April||Ox (ฉลู)||Tuesday||2046||13 April||Tiger (ขาล)||Sunday|
|2022||13 April||Tiger (ขาล)||Thursday||2047||13 April||Rabbit (เถาะ)||Monday|
|2023||13 April||Rabbit (เถาะ)||Friday||2048||13 April||Dragon (มะโรง)||Wednesday|
|2024||13 April||Dragon (มะโรง)||Sunday||2049||13 April||Snake (มะเส็ง)||Thursday|
|2025||13 April||Snake (มะเส็ง)||Monday||2050||13 April||Horse (มะเมีย)||Friday|
The mythical origins behind the celebration of Songkran revolve around the Nang Songkran or the Seven Ladies of Songkran. Kabilla Phrom also known as Brahmā enjoyed betting and met a seven-year-old boy named, Thammabal Kumara who was able to recite scriptures in public. Kabilla Phrom wanted to test the child's knowledge so he descended to earth and presented three riddles to the boy and in return if he knew the answer Kabilla Phrom would offer him his head to the boy. However, if the boy failed to come up with seven answers within seven days he would lose his head to Kabilla Phrom. The three riddles were, "where did a person's aura exist in the morning, where was it at noon, and where did it appear at night?" For six days the boy pondered over the riddles and could still not find an answer. However, the boy who was laying under palm trees heard a male and female eagle joyfully talking about how they would soon be able to feast on a boy's dead body. The two eagles then revealed the answers to the riddles which the boy overheard and he immediately went to Kabilla Phrom. The boy recited the answers, "In the morning, a person's aura appeared on his face, so he washed it. At noon, it was at his chest; so, he wore perfume there. And at night, his aura moved to his feet; that was why he bathed them", Kabilla Phrom had lost the bet and so had to cut off his own head. Kabilla Phrom's head however held special powers, if it should touch the ground, the earth would catch fire; if it should be left in the air, there would be no rain and if it should be dropped into the sea, the sea would dry up. In order to save the world from these possible disasters, the god's seven daughters or Nang Songkran placed their father's on a phan and carried it around in procession around Mount Meru before placing it in a cave on Mount Kailash with many offerings. Thus, at the beginning of each year Kabilla Phrom's daughters would take turns to bring out the god's head and carry it in procession around Mount Meru, this celebration is known as Songkran.
|Day||Name||Flower||Stone||Food||Right hand||Left hand||Vehicle|
|Sunday||Tung Sa Devi||Pomegranate flowers||Ruby||Fig||Discus||Conch||Garuda|
|Monday||Ko Rak Devi||Cork tree flowers||Moonstone||Oil||Sword||Staff||Tiger|
|Tuesday||Rak Sod Devi||Lotus flower||Agate||Blood||Trident||Bow||Pig|
|Wednesday||Manta Devi||Champak flowers||Cat's eye||Butter||Stylus||Staff||Donkey|
|Thursday||Kirinee Devi||Magnolia||Emerald||Nuts and sesame seeds||Hook||Bow||Elephant|
|Friday||Kimita Devi||Water lilies||Topaz||Banana||Sword||Lute||Buffalo|
|Saturday||Mahotorn Devi||Water hyacinth flowers||Blue sapphire||Hog deer meat||Discus||Trident||Peacock|
List of Easter Sunday Dates 2000–2099