The 13th April marks the start of the celebrations for the Songkran Festival, which is the traditional Thai New Year. In many cities around Thailand there is a parade. On one of the floats are the seven daughters of a mythical God who had his head cut off when he lost a wager. Every year, his severed head is paraded through the city streets for everyone to see.
Each year, the seven sisters take turns to lead the parade. Each sister is assigned a different day. As Songkran falls on a Sunday this year, the parade is lead by Tungsatevee. Her mode of transport is Garuda, a supernatural eagle-like being that serves as Vishnu’s mount. In Tungsatevee’s right hand she holds a discuss and in her left hand a conch.
Hundreds of local people lined each side of the street and cheered as the parade passed by. There were also Buddha images in the parade and people threw water to bathe the image as a mark of respect. Today people will also go to the temple to wash the feet of monks. They will also visit their elders to pay respect by pouring rose scented water over their hands. In return they will receive a blessing. Another tradition is to go to the temple to take part in a ceremony to make merit for dead ancestors. People also take sand to the temple which might have inadvertently been removed during past visits during their year by sticking to the bottom of their shoes. They then take part in competitions at the temple to build sand pagodas.
Of course, the main feature of Songkran which is recognized by tourists is the big water fight. April is the hottest month of the year in Thailand and so playing with water is a great way to cool down and have some fun at the same time.