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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fun, culture and cuisine at Sukhothai, the homeland of Songkran Festival

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is organising the Thai New Year (Songkran) Festival 2014 in seven major destinations across Sukhothai province, traditionally the homeland of Songkran Festival, which was first celebrated over 700 years ago.

To help everyone understand the ancient traditions of the Songkran Festival, TAT has organised special booths to be opened during the water festival where tourists can pour water onto Buddha statues in the traditional style.
Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik, Governor of TAT said, “All tourists, Thai and foreigners, are encouraged to share their fun times by signing into Facebook for interactive activities and to upload their Songkran photos. This can be done by visiting www.facebook.com/tatsukhothaifanpage and the best pictures will get special rewards from TAT.”
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This year Songkran celebrations in Sukhothai will take place from 7-19, April, 2014 at the following locations:
Si Satchanalai Historical Park
Date: 8-12 April
Join in with the ancient Sukhothai tradition of playing with water and merit making. There will be a ceremony to pay respects to Phraya Li Thai, the founder of the Sukhothai Kingdom. The five-day event will also feature a food festival, music, cultural and traditional performances.
Also at Si Satchanalai Historical Park, on 7 April, a unique event will take place when members of the Thai Puan ethnic group of Ban Hat Sieo organise a colourful parade that culminates in an elephant ordination ceremony. The spectacular procession features elephants dressed up in adornments that evoke the culture of the Thai Puan. This tradition stretches back over 150 years and is unique to the ethnic group who originated in the Sukhothai area.
Sawankhalok Songkran and Food Festival
Date: 11-15 April
The celebration will take place on the banks of the Yom River, in front of Wat Sawang Arom Woraviharn in Sawankhalok district. Local people come here to pay their respects to Phra Phuttha Ruengrith, the sacred Buddha statue of the Sawankalok people. Various tasty, local foodstuffs will be available to enjoy throughout the event.
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Sukhothai Historical Park
Date: 12-14 April
In the UNESCO Historical Park, visitors can join in with a sand pagoda building competition and enjoy a Songkran beauty contest, an ancient cartwheel procession, as well as local sports competitions and folk plays throughout the three-day event.
Thung Thalae Luang
Date: 12-14 April
Songkran at Thung Thalae Luang will feature a special tunnel of sacred water sprayed up in arches. Those walking underneath will be blessed with good fortune for the Thai New Year. Visitors are invited to pay their respects to Phra Phuttha Rattanasiri Sukhothai, a Buddha image that has been regarded sacred since the Sukhothai era. They also get the chance to join the fun of splashing water over the course of the festival.
Chalermprakiat Park by the bank of the Yom River
Date: 12-14 April
At Chalermprakiat Park, visitors can enjoy the usual sand-pagoda building activities and join in with the locals to pay respect to the sacred Buddha image of Wat Thai Chomphon. There will also be a Songkran Kids talent competition and a beauty contest (on 12 April).
In addition, visitors will enjoy a colourful parade and a cultural procession that tells the story of the origins of Songkran and experience the religious aspects of the Thai New Year by joining the bathing of local Buddhist monks and pay tribute to the Mae Ya image (on 13 April).
Over the course of the three-day event, there will be some lively Songkran water fun during which revelers get the chance to enter a decorative T-shirt competition, enjoy some traditional folk dancing and see music concerts.
Bathing Chao Muen Dong Ceremony
Date: 17-19 April
In Si Satchanalai district, there will be a sacred ceremony to venerate the image of Chao Muen Dong at Ban Tuek. The event features folk plays and an elephants’ parade in which the majestic beasts will themselves pay homage to the Chao Muen Dong image.
Visitors to Ban Tuek will also be able to see the elephants get a health check-up and see a unique Muay Thai dance performance where the skilled performers use their exquisite movements to show respects to Chao Muen Dong.
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