Last year, we arrived in Thailand about a week too late to enjoy the festivities of Songkran, the traditional New Year’s celebrations. Originally, the 3-4 days of Songkran was a time for people to visit and pay their respects to their elders, monks and Buddhist relics, by gently pouring water over the hands and shoulders. However, today, the celebrations have morphed into massive water fights, with Thais and foreigners alike soaking each other with anything from buckets to hoses to water guns sold at exorbitant prices.
In Chiang Mai, commonly known as the best place in the world to celebrate Songkran, the old city, specifically around the moat, is a continuous splash-fest from morning til night. Although the water is meant as a symbol of cleansing, the buckets armed with moat-water is anything but. We were heavily warned to keep our eyes and mouths closed when getting doused, unless we want to risk getting an infection of some various kind.
A highlight of our Songkran festivities was when an elderly Thai woman gave us the most sincere smile and then, with her small silver bowl filled with water, gently blessed our shoulders and wished us a happy new year. We walked away from this actually feeling blessed. This heartwarming experience didn’t last long, though. A couple jerks with super-soakers walked by and sprayed us in our ears with freezing cold water!
That brings us to a lesson we’d like to discuss: if you are looking for an instruction manual for “How to be a jerk at Songkran”, simply follow these steps. Consuming large amounts of alcohol can assist you in performing one, two or all of the suggestions below. If your goal is to be the biggest jerk at Songkran, then you have to do not only all five steps, but do them repeatedly. Good luck as there is a lot of competition out there!
How to Be a Jerk at Songkran in Five Easy Steps
- Spray someone talking on the phone
- Seek out and aim at someone who is trying to take a picture
- Throw buckets of water over people just arriving with all their luggage
- Pour a bucket of water over someone at the ATM
- Spray someone intentionally with water in the face, and in particular, aim for their mouth or eyes