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Songkran Festival

04/16/2010

This week we celebrated the Thai New Year with a water festival called Songkran. It has been a blast! The Thais throw water on one another to symbolize cleansing for the coming year. Traditionally, Songkran is an opportunity to bless your elders, give them gifts, and bring water to put on their heads as a blessing. We were able to do this simple ceremony for our neighbor who has done so much to help us these last seven months. Ning prepared gifts for him and the blessing water. We presented it to him and his wife, said a blessing to them, and then he gave us a blessing in return for this next year. It was a special time to honor him and his wife since we have grown close to them in our time here.

Other parts of the three-day festival include a day when you are to clean your house, and a designated family day.  It is also a time when many Buddhists go to the temple as families and perform rituals to bring in the new year. It is three days long, but really everyone celebrates it for about a week. Everyone is off work, and it is so fun watching people be together. It reminds me of Christmas time. Though instead of red and green everywhere, everyone is wearing bright-colored, almost Hawaiian-print shirts, and fun hats. And it is over 100 degrees outside!

The first day we loaded in the back of the Fikes’ truck with some of our neighbors. We had giant buckets of water and added huge chunks of ice to make it an even bigger surprise for people (and to be clear, we threw cold water, not chunks of ice, at people). I mean, why throw water if it isn’t freezing cold? We drove down the busiest street in town, and there were hundreds and hundreds of people lining the streets. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in a while, watching people get doused with water. I witnessed various styles of dousing. My two favorites are the “Slow-Motion Douse” and the “Spirited Douse”. The “Slow-Motion Douse” usually involves a motorcyclist pulling up next to a truckload of people at a red light. The motorcyclist can go nowhere and is usually not equipped with anything to fight back. The person in the truck casually leans over and empties an entire bucket of water on the defenseless driver, and it is a thing of beauty. The motorcyclist usually just sits there acting cool like he/she doesn’t even notice what is happening. Sometimes they give a little smile, but for the most part they play it cool. I love it! The “Spirited Douse” is also a fav. This is when you watch someone on the side of the road get ready to hurl the water on someone passing by…it is something about the set of their mouth, the energy in the approach, and the shout of glee when the water splats across their target that brings me such joy and sends me into peals of laughter. I can’t get enough!

The second day we loaded in the back of the truck again, and it was probably the better of the two days. We took the back roads and went in search of a good time. I would say that our girls loved it, but I would be lying. They didn’t make it down our street before they demanded to be put in the cab with me (I got to be the driver…a real sacrifice). The Fikes’ boys loved it though! There’s a little boy/girl difference for you. 🙂 Maybe next year! They did have fun watching from the safety of the cab though.

It is a beautiful sight to see the faces of young kids, dads, moms, grandparents, friends, and people of all ages smiling, laughing, dancing, and having such a great time together. That was my favorite thing about this week…the smiles. It is so fun to see this country, which is in the middle of political turmoil, be able to stop, laugh, and drench each other in water. And it is fun to see people dance up to your car to get you and then run away squealing because they didn’t know it was ice water that was coming back at them! Priceless. I wish we had this holiday in the States. I think yall would love it, too!

Of course there was a downside. There is a lot of drinking that takes place, so we saw lots of drunk people, many of them underage. Derran, Ryan, and Chris even broke up a fight that they came upon when everyone else just stood there and watched. There are always those that take advantage of such festive times to act inappropriately and steal some of the innocent joy away.  But, overall, I think joy wins out. It was such a fun week. So that is what I take away from this week….smiles. Smiles on so many faces. You can’t help but laugh when you see that many soaking wet people and hear the shrieks of laughter and joy when a well-placed shot of water hits its’ target. Joy.

Loading up with our neighbors and some of their friends. Let the games begin.

Our arsenal.

Some shots from the road alongside Lake Phayao.

Corban gets in on the action.

Meg likes to have her own water fight in our driveway.

And afterwards, time for a little relaxing.

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7 comments

  1. I’m glad you guys have had so much fun! I totally wish we had Songkran here!! Except maybe not here in Athens because I don’t trust this many college kids to keep it friendly and fun… :o/

    I love those pics of Meg chillin’ out with her water gun and little tub. She is so adorable! And I LOVED your Easter post. Brynn’s earnestness is maybe my favorite thing ever! We miss you guys and love you lots!!!


  2. Love it! Looks like so much fun! I guess you have to play in the water to stay cool- sorry it’s so hot there! Love you guys and thank you for the prayers for Julie.


  3. OK – I just wrote a long comment then accidentally hit delete. Suffice it to say I love reading your stories and hearing about all your adventures. And my favorite picture is Meg lugging her big puppy dog around on the egg hunt 🙂 Love you!


  4. Great recaps of your life and adventures…….I love
    the way it makes us feel a part of what is going on.
    All of you are amazing. Love you
    Mom


  5. Soooo fun! I remember the Songkran days, such fun memories. Glad you guys had a fun week! We miss you so much as always and we’re always thinking about you and praying for you. We’re so proud of you and the work you are doing in Phayao. I know it’s difficult but you are honoring God and bringing Him glory and I feel blessed to be on this side seeing how God is using you. Love you so much! Ames


  6. That’s hilarious, Ann. — I loved the description of the different types of dousing. So missing your sense of humor. Miss you too!


  7. That sounds awesome. Like Welcome Week Water Day for an entire country! There’s nothing like some good underage drinking and water balloons. Looks like everyone is so happy because they’re so hot, they WANT you to douse them with water. I wish I had a video of the “slow motion douse” of a motorcyclist. I want to see him “play it cool.” That made me laugh out loud.

    Love you guys. Keep the great stories coming!



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