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Songkran
Official nameDifferent names denote the festival across South and Southeast Asia
Regional names
  • သင်္ကြန် (Burmese)
  • មហាសង្ក្រាន្ត (Khmer)
  • ປີໃໝ່ (Lao)
  • 泼水节 (Mandarin)
  • संक्रांति (Sanskrit)
  • අලුත් අවුරුද්ද (Sinhalese)
  • มหาสงกรานต์ (Thai)
Also calledSoutheast Asian New Year
Observed byBurmese, Cambodian, Dais, Laotians, Thais, Bangladeshis (CHT), Sri Lankans, Tai Dam and certain ethnic groups of northeast India
SignificanceMarks the new year
DateGenerally 13–15 April
2024 dateGenerally 13–15 April
FrequencyAnnual
Related toMesha Sankranti
Songkran celebrations
Paying respects to elders is important in many Songkran celebrations, such as those in Songkran Thailand.
As Thingyan in Myanmar; water throwing is a cleansing ritual of many Songkran celebrations.
As Choul Chnam Thmey in Cambodia; pouring water on Buddha is important in SE Asia. Often known as blessing in Cambodia
As Aluth Avuruddu in Sri Lanka; the blossoming of the Erythrina fusca symbolizes the advent of the New Year in Sri Lanka.
As Pii Mai in Laos.
Ancestor altars are common during New Year celebrations in Cambodia and Thailand.
Songkran celebrations involve a variety of diverse traditions practiced in the many countries and regions that celebrate the traditional New Year festival

Songkran is the water-splashing festival celebration in traditional new year for Buddhist calendar widely celebrated across South and Southeast Asia in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, parts of northeast India, parts of Vietnam and Xishuangbanna, China[2][3] begins on 13 April of the year.

Etymology

In Thai,[4] Songkran[5] or Songkrant (outdated form)[6] is a contractive form of Sangkran (sim kranti), which itself is a loanword[7][8] from Sanskrit saṅkrānti (or, more specifically, meṣha saṅkrānti)[9] or Pali Saṅkhāra.[10] The original meaning of saṅkrānti marked of the sun transits the constellation of Aries, the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, as reckoned by sidereal astrology.[11] It is related to the equivalent Hindu calendar-based New Year festivals in most parts of South Asia which are collectively referred to as Mesha Sankranti.

Oxford English Dictionary defines Songkran as "The festival of the Thai New Year, characterized by various observances involving the pouring or splashing of water (1727–present.)".[12] Term has also entered other languages, such as French: La fête du Songkran,[13] Dutch: Sonkraen,[14] Japanese: ソンクラーン,[15] Chinese: 宋干节[16] and Korean: 송끄란.[17]

Ethnic Groups

The word Songkran written in different ethnic groups, languages or cultures as the following,

Khmer language

Songkran written as Sankranti can be found in many Khmer inscriptions,[36] namely at these locations;

Songkran in Cambodia written as Maha Sankran[44] in 1904 by Étienne Aymonier and Maha sankrant[45] or Sankrant[45] in 1909 by Adhémard Leclère which marked the beginning of Cambodia New Year found in The Cambodian's Almanac and Its Calendar for 1907–1908.

Étienne Aymonier also distinguished the difference of the term Maha Sankran in Cambodia that only refers to the small official calendar which must appear for the new year, while in Siam (Thailand) which refers to the beginning of New year, Siamese called Sankranta, which pronounced as Songkran.[44]

Thailand

Songkran in Sanskrit forms, written as Vishuva Sankranti in Khom[B] script epigraphs, which marked the beginning of the New Year in the Odisha calendar and referred to the sun on midday has equally orbited in the day and night, was found in Thailand at these locations;

The word Songkran not only can be found those Thai archaeological evidences, but also being recorded by foreigners who ever lived in Thailand. Its meaning especially marked the beginning of Songkran festival, holidays, water-splashing and Siamese new year observances different the meaning of the Sanskrit word, saṅkrānti which can be found in these contemporary archives;

Also found in these Thai contemporary archives;

History

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (May 2023)

Songkran New Year Festivals

Festivities outside of Asia

Australia

Songkran celebrations are held in many parts of the country. One of the most notable celebrations is at the Wat Pa Buddharangsee Buddhist Temple in the Sydney suburb of Leumeah, New South Wales. The festival attracts thousands of visitors each year and involves a water fight, daily prayer, dance performances and food stalls which serve food of Thai, Bangladesh (CHT), Burmese, Cambodian, Laotian, Sri Lankan and Malaysian origin.[61][62] In 2014, the celebration was attended by more than 2000 people.[63] Similarly in the same suburb, the Mahamakut Buddhist Foundation organizes a Songkran celebration featuring chanting, blessing, a short sermon, a fund raising food fete and Southeast Asian traditional dances.[64] Large scale Thai New Year (Songkran) celebrations are held in Thai Town, Sydney in the popular tourist suburb of Haymarket, New South Wales.[65] In Melbourne, the Sinhalese (Sri Lankan) New Year festival is held annually in Dandenong, Victoria.[66] In 2011, it attracted more than 5000 people and claims to be the largest Sinhalese New Year Festival in Melbourne.[67] The Queen Victoria Market held a two-day Songkran event celebrating the Thai New Year in early April 2017.[68] Songkran celebrations celebrating the Thai, Cambodian, Lao, Burmese and Sri Lankan New Year festivals are well known and popular among the residents of the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta, New South Wales which is home to large populations of Cambodians, Laotians and Thais.[69] Temples and organisations hold celebrations across the suburb including a large Lao New Year celebration in the neighbouring suburb of Bonnyrigg organised in partnership with the Fairfield City Council.[70][71] In the Melbourne suburb of Footscray, Victoria a Lunar New Year celebration initially focusing on the Vietnamese New Year has expanded into a celebration of the Songkran celebrations of the Thais, Cambodians, Laotians and other Asian Australian communities such as Chinese who celebrate the New Year in either January/February or April.[72] Taronga Zoo in Sydney, New South Wales celebrated the Thai New Year in April 2016 with its Asian elephants and traditional Thai dancers.[73]

United States

Songkran celebrations often occur in cities which host large Sri Lankan, Thai, Burmese, Laotian and Cambodian populations. The UW Khmer Student Association hosts a new year celebration at the University of Washington in Seattle. The White Center Cambodian New Year Street Festival is held at the Golden House Bakery & Deli in Seattle.[74] The Los Angeles Buddhist Vihara in Pasadena, California celebrates the Songkran festival with a focus on the Sri Lankan New Year. The Brahma Vihara in Azusa, California also holds celebrations with a Burmese New Year focus.[75] The International Lao New Year Festival is held annually in San Francisco and celebrates the Lao New Year with acknowledgment of other Asian communities, Thai, Cambodian, Burmese, Sri Lankan and the Dai people of southern China, who also celebrate the same festival.[76] In February 2015, the Freer and Sackler gallery in Washington D.C. held a Lunar New Year event celebrating the "Year of the Sheep" which also celebrated the Lunar New Year that occurs in mid-April for many other Asian countries. It included activities, information and food from China, Korea, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and other Asian countries that celebrated either of the two new year celebrations.[77] Similarly in 2016, The Wing in Seattle held a Lunar New Year celebration centered around the East Asian Lunar New Year however also focused on New Year customs in Laos as part of its "New Years All Year Round" exhibit.[78]

On April 2, 2024, The legislative assembly of New York State, adopted legislative bill of Commemorating the Asian American community's celebration of Songkran on April as an important cultural event on the state as Assembly Resolution No. 1059:[79]-

Songkran is Thailand's most famous festival; this water festival marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year[80]

— The legislative assembly of New York State, Assembly Resolution No. 1059, The New York State Senate. (April 2, 2024).

See also

Notes

  1. ^ In the Dai zodiac, the elephant is the twelfth zodiac and thus will be considered the "Year of the Elephant".[1]
  2. ^ The term Khom denotation given by Assoc. Prof. Santi Phakdeekham as it refers to the Tai ethnicity prior 1800 CE, inhabited in lower part of Chao Phraya River which is distinct separation between Angkor and Cambodia.[46]

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