See More on Facebook

Curiosity

Southeast Asia celebrates Songkran

Thousands of tourists and locals across the region took to the streets last week to celebrate the Buddhist New Year.


Written by

Updated: April 16, 2018

The annual festival is celebrated in many Asian countries including Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. In addition to being a time for family reunions and traditional ceremonies, the festival is widely known for its wild water fights and street parties. From a plus size beauty pageant to a massive festival at Cambodia’s Angkor Archaeological Park, here is how Songkran was celebrated across Southeast Asia this year.

Thailand

Neither locals nor foreigners were put off by scorching temperatures during this year’s Songkran as they participated in water fights in all the country’s major cities, The Nation reported. Though temperatures reached as high as 40.2 degrees in the northeast on April 13, the second day of the festival, celebration venues reported more participants than usual as people attempted to beat the heat by getting soaked.

Thais and tourists also flocked to the nation’s northern provinces to experience the area’s unique traditions, according to The Nation. Visitors to Chiang Mai got to experience a specially prepared event, where they got to pour water on Buddha statues for blessings. Also on offer was the opportunity to experience building pagodas out of sand. Participants were encouraged to celebrate in style by donning traditional Thai costumes and submitting pictures of themselves to the TAT Chiang Mai Facebook page. Those with the most likes by Sunday received special prizes.

Chiang Mai festival-goers were not the only ones looking good. The authorities of Bang Nam Phueng district organised a special transgender beauty pageant on Thursday (April 12) to celebrate Songkran, where each participant was required to weigh at least 120kg.

Even the National Museum Bangkok participated in Songkran celebrations by opening a special temporary exhibition on Thursday, The Nation reported.

Laos

The Laos New Year, also known as Pi Mai Lao, began on April 14, and will end on April 16. Main activities include pouring water on Buddha images in temples, tying threads on wrists for blessings and pouring water on one another the Vientiane Times reported.

Vientiane and big provinces such as Luang Prabang, Khammuan, Savannakhet and Champassak, are running special activities such as a contest of Nang Sangkharn or Miss Pi Mai Lao, beach sports competitions, cultural performances and more, according to the Vientiane Times.

The Royal Thai Embassy in Vientiane also celebrated the event ahead of time on April 4 by hosting “Songkran Thai-Pi Mai Lao.” The festivities kicked off with opening remarks by Mr Chatchawan Sakornsin, Chargé d Affairs of the Royal Thai Embassy, followed by a baci ceremony and water blessing ceremony. Visitors were also treated to traditional food and drinks, performances by cultural teams from the Bunditpatanasilpa Institute of Thailand and games, according to the Vientiane Times.

Myanmar

Myanmar’s Thingyan began on April 13, marking the start of four days of wild celebrations.

Visitors can expect booming music, intense water fights and street food in addition to traditional ceremonies, according to AFP.

Partygoers may also take to padals, or stages where they can rain water down on dancers below, AFP reported.

In an April 6 article outlining the preparations for the festival, The Myanmar Times highlighted Pyay Road as the location of some of the most popular pavilions, with famous artistes and vocalists expected to perform.

Cambodia

Angkor Sankranta, a four-day festival celebrating the Khmer New Year, began at Cambodia’s famous Angkor Archaeological Park on Friday (April 13), according to Siem Reap magazine.

Held for the sixth time, this year’s Angkor Sankranta is bigger and better than before, featuring some 33 interesting programmes including art performances, popular Khmer games, an exhibition on Sambor Prey Kuk Temple and more, the Khmer Times reported.

According to Siem Reap magazine, the festival attracted 1.6 million visitors last year, and organizers are expecting an even greater turnout this year.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Nadia Chevroulet
About the Author: Nadia is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Curiosity

Thailand to legalize medicinal marijuana

Agencies step up research, confident law will be changed; recreational use to be illegal. Thailand’s GovernmentalPharmaceuticall Organisation (GPO) has begun researching how to develop medicines from marijuana in acknowledgement of evidence that the outlawed substance has health-enhancing properties. It is also seeking to initiate a legal amendment that would permit cannabis for medicinal use, possibly by May next year. GPO chairman Dr Sopon Mekthon yesterday said that with the prospect of marijuana being legalised in certain circumstances, his organisation had begun working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Narcotics Suppression Bureau to launch a research project on developing and mass-producing medicines from marijuana. The Narcotics Suppression Bureau has already given 100 kilograms of seized marijuana to the GPO as raw material for their resea


By The Nation (Thailand)
September 26, 2018

Curiosity

BTS’ motivational UN speech transcends race and gender identity

In a rare move for K-pop, BTS’ UN speech about self-acceptance embraced everyone including sexual minorities. K-pop sensation BTS embraced self-love and encouraged young people around the world to “speak themselves” regardless of their origin, skin color and gender identity, in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Monday. Kim Nam-joon, better known as RM, said, “No matter who you are, where you are from, your skin color, your gender identity, just speak yourself,” expressing support for sexual minorities. The group’s six-minute speech kicked off the launch of the UN’s new youth initiative Generation Unlimited, a program designed to tackle the global education crisis and make education more accessible for young people.


By The Korea Herald
September 26, 2018

Curiosity

India launches world’s biggest healthcare programme

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched India’s ambitious healthcare program on Sunday. Deemed the “world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme”, the scheme will cover half a billion people through its network of hospitals and support services. Speaking at the event, the PM said that the number of beneficiaries is equivalent to the total population of the United States, Canada and Mexico or the entire European Union. “This is a major step taken to fulfil the vision of providing better healthcare facilities to the poorest of the poor and to those standing last in the queue,” the PM said. Following the launch, the PM informed the gathering that the scheme covers diseases such as cancer, heart diseases, kidney and liver problems, diabetes and over 1300 various ailments. “The treatment of the diseases can not only be done in government hospitals but also private hospitals,” said


By Cod Satrusayang
September 24, 2018

Curiosity

Which Asian countries are the most innovative?

Singapore, South Korea and Japan are the most innovative countries in Asia. Singapore, South Korea and Japan are the most innovative countries in Asia whereas Pakistan and Bangladesh are the least innovative, according to the Global Innovation Index 2018 report. The report analyses the energy innovation landscape of the next decade and identifies possible breakthroughs in fields such as energy production, storage, distribution, and consumption. It also looks at how breakthrough innovation occurs at the grassroots level and describes how small-scale renewable systems are on the rise. South East Asia is at the third place globally in terms of innovation. Singapore leads the region with a high score in most of the indicators. Globally it has moved two positions up since last year. South Korea is also among the high income countries that has increased investment in innovation and is ranked second in


By Asia News Network
September 17, 2018

Curiosity

Why India’s Partition continues to haunt the Kashmir Valley

Pakistani writer Anam Zakaria travels through Pakistan-administered Kashmir to hear its people – their sufferings, hopes and aspirations. When the Indian subcontinent was partitioned more than 70 years ago, Jammu and Kashmir was split between India and newly created Pakistan. Both countries continue to administer parts of Kashmir, both claiming rights over the entire territory, both being haunted by the decades of violence that has consumed them. There have been demands in Indian-administered Kashmir, with a predominantly Muslim population, to either merge with Pakistan or to create an independent country. The demand has been rejected by the Indian government amid violence and the killing of around 70,000 people since


By Lamat R Hasan
September 13, 2018

Curiosity

Asean military spending not really about China: expert

Southeast Asian countries spent more than US$39 billion on defence in 2017. Although Southeast Asia countries are spending more on military defence equipment, it doesn’t mean they are increasing the risk of conflict in the region, according to Tim Huxley, Executive Director at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Speaking at a session on understanding Asia’s new balance of power, one of the activities as part of the 2018 World Economic Forum on ASEAN in Hà Nội, Huxley revealed some surprising numbers on regional arms spending. In 2017, Southeast Asian countries spend more than US$39 billion on defence. According to Felix Heiduk from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, total defence spending of ASEAN states doubled over the last 15 years in absolute terms, with countries like Indonesia and Thailand witnessing military expenditure growth rates of 10 per cent y


By Viet Nam News
September 13, 2018