Song Nam Phra At Wat Chai Mongkol

One of the more traditional events that takes place during Songkran is “song nam phra”. This is the practice of bathing Buddha images with rose scented water. Most tourists, and even some Thai teenagers, seem to think that Songkran is only about throwing water at each other.

However, it was originally more a bathing of Buddha images and pouring water on the hands of monks and elders. The latter ceremony is called “rod nam dam hua”. Over the years people tend to spend more time playing water fights which is obviously more fun.

I took these pictures at Wat Chai Mongkol in Samut Prakan this afternoon during their annual “song nam phra” ceremony. People came to the temple in their best clothes with their families. They then prepared some rose scented water which they first poured onto a Buddha image.

Next they walked down a line of seated monks and carefully poured some water onto their hands. Some people, who were a bit more familiar with the novice monks, poured some colder water down their necks.

Once the lay people had finished pouring water on the monks and novices, they then had some fun splashing water on each other. This is basically where the water fights started. In the old days, it was mainly restricted to the temples.

Now it is on all the streets and no-one is safe from the roaming pick-up trucks armed to the teeth with barrels of water and powerful water guns. Wat Chai Mongkol have about 300 novice monks at the moment who ordained for the summer holidays.


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