Songkran

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For other traditions of celebrating lunar new year, see Lunar New Year.
For the related South Asian equivalent, see Mesha Sankranti.
Songkran
Official name

Different names denote the festival across South and Southeast Asia

Also called Southeast Asian New Year
Observed by Thais, Laotians, Cambodians, Sri Lankans, Burmese, Dai, Tai Dam and certain ethnic groups of northeast India
Significance Marks the new year
Date Generally 13/14 April
2016 date 13/14 April, Monkey
2017 date 13/14 April, Rooster
2018 date 13/14 April, Dog
2019 date 13/14 April, Pig/Elephant[A]
Frequency Annual
Related to Mesha Sankranti
Songkran celebrations
Songkran in Wat Kungthapao 03.jpg
Paying respects to elders is important in many Songkran celebrations, such as those in Thailand.
Rakhine Thingyan 2011.jpeg
As Thingyan in Myanmar; water throwing is a cleansing ritual of many Songkran celebrations .
Khmer New Year GA2010-223.jpg
As Choul Chnam Thmey in Cambodia; the washing of the Buddha is important in SE Asia.
Erythrina fusca 3689.jpg
As Aluth Avuruddu in Sri Lanka; the blossoming of the Erythrina fusca symbolizes the advent of the New Year in Sri Lanka.
Lao New Year, flour throwing.jpg
As Pii Mai in Laos.
Ancestor altar.JPG
Ancestor altars are common during New Year celebrations in Cambodia and Thailand.
Songkran celebrations involve a variety of diverse traditions practiced in the many countries and regions that celebrate the traditional New Year festival

Songkran is a term derived from the Sanskrit word, saṅkrānti (or, more specifically, meṣa saṅkrānti) and used to refer to the traditional Lunar New Year celebrated in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, parts of Northeast India, parts of Vietnam and Xishuangbanna, China.[2][3] It begins when the sun transits the constellation of Aries, the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, as reckoned by sidereal astrology.[4] It is related to the equivalent Hindu calendar-based New Year festivals in most parts of South Asia which are collectively referred to as Mesha Sankranti.

Songkran New Year Festivals[edit]

Festivities outside of Asia[edit]

Australia[edit]

Songkran celebrations are held in many parts of the country. One of the most notable celebrations is at the Wat Pa Buddharangsee Buddhist Temple in the Sydney suburb of Leumeah, New South Wales. The festival attracts thousands of visitors each year and involves a water fight, daily prayer, dance performances and food stalls which serve food of Thai, Burmese, Cambodian, Laotian, Sri Lankan and Malaysian origin.[7][8] In 2014, the celebration was attended by more than 2000 people.[9] Similarly in the same suburb, the Mahamakut Buddhist Foundation organizes a Songkran celebration featuring chanting, blessing, a short sermon, a fund raising food fete and Southeast Asian traditional dances.[10] Large scale Thai New Year (Songkran) celebrations are held in Thai Town, Sydney in the popular tourist suburb of Haymarket, New South Wales.[11] In Melbourne, the Sinhalese (Sri Lankan) New Year festival is held annually in Dandenong, Victoria.[12] In 2011, it attracted more than 5000 people and claims to be the largest Sinhalese New Year Festival in Melbourne.[13] In the Melbourne suburb of Footscray, Victoria a Lunar New Year celebration initially focusing on the Vietnamese New Year has expanded into a celebration of the Songkran celebrations of the Thais, Cambodians, Laotians and other Asian Australian communities such as Chinese who celebrate the New Year in either January/February or April.[14] Taronga Zoo in Sydney, New South Wales celebrated the Thai New Year in April 2016 with its Asian elephants and traditional Thai dancers.[15]

United States[edit]

Songkran celebrations often occur in cities which host large Sri Lankan, Thai, Burmese, Laotian and Cambodian populations. The UW Khmer Student Association hosts a new year celebration at the University of Washington in Seattle. The White Center Cambodian New Year Street Festival is held at the Golden House Bakery & Deli in Seattle.[16] The Los Angeles Buddhist Vihara in Pasadena, California celebrates the Songkran festival with a focus on the Sri Lankan New Year. The Brahma Vihara in Azusa, California also holds celebrations with a Burmese New Year focus.[17] The International Lao New Year Festival is held annually in San Francisco and celebrates the Lao New Year with acknowledgment of other Asian communities, Thai, Cambodian, Burmese, Sri Lankan and the Dai people of southern China, who also celebrate the same festival.[18] In February 2015, the Freer and Sackler gallery in Washington D.C. held a Lunar New Year event celebrating the "Year of the Sheep" which also celebrated the Lunar New Year that occurs in mid-April for many other Asian countries. It included activities, information and food from China, Korea, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and other Asian countries that celebrated either of the two new year celebrations.[19] Similarly in 2016, The Wing in Seattle held a Lunar New Year celebration centered around the East Asian Lunar New Year however also focused on New Year customs in Laos as part of its "New Years All Year Round" exhibit.[20]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In the Dai zodiac, the elephant is the twelfth zodiac and thus will be considered the "Year of the Elephant".[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Chinese Zodiac
  2. ^ "制造传统* ——关于傣族泼水节及其相关新年话语的研究". Open Times. February 2010. Retrieved 17 January 2017.  line feed character in |title= at position 6 (help)
  3. ^ Donald K. Swearer The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia
  4. ^ The Origins of the Songkran Festival
  5. ^ https://www.lonelyplanet.com/china/yunnan/xishuangbanna-region/travel-tips-and-articles/76569
  6. ^ http://pattayadailynews.com/sawatdee-pee-mai-happy-new-year-to-all-our-devoted-wet-readers/
  7. ^ https://www.travelblog.org/Oceania/Australia/New-South-Wales/Campbelltown/blog-265904.html
  8. ^ http://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2015/01/19/celebrate-songkran
  9. ^ http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/macarthur/leumeahs-wat-pa-buddharangsee-buddhist-temple-welcomes-2000-to-celebrate-southeast-asian-buddhist-new-year-festival/news-story/195e5fc17b8668fe0131e5c9c2fe99da
  10. ^ http://mahamakut.org.au/
  11. ^ http://www.haymarketchamber.org.au/sites/default/files/SEPT13_LIVE.pdf
  12. ^ http://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/sinhalese/en/content/biggest-sinhala-new-year-festival-melbourne-dandenong-bakmaha-ulela
  13. ^ http://dandenong.starcommunity.com.au/journal/2011-04-21/sinhalese-new-year/
  14. ^ East Meets West Lunar New Year Festival
  15. ^ http://gulfnews.com/multimedia/framed/news/sydney-s-taronga-zoo-mark-thai-new-year-1.1710509
  16. ^ http://ethnicseattle.com/2016/04/12/5920/
  17. ^ http://wisdomquarterly.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/happy-southeast-asian-buddhist-new-year.html
  18. ^ http://www.laonewyear.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=30&Itemid=48
  19. ^ Celebrate the Lunar New Year at Freer|Sackler
  20. ^ Lunar New Year at the Wing