SONGKHLA, 11 April 2014  The Sadao Boundary Post, Songkhla Province is crowded with tourists who have come for a travel holiday in Songkhla and southern Thai provinces over Songkran. They have been arriving since early morning, creating a crowded fun filled atmosphere.

The many visitors have mostly traveled with tour groups or in private cars. Extra immigration officers have been stationed at the checkpoints due to the large number of tourists who have been entering the country throughout the day to join in the Songkran festivities.

Songkran Festival activities in Songkhla are held near the Thailand-Malaysia border; Hat Yai District; and Khao Niaw Road. It's reported that 13,000 hotel rooms in Sonkhla Province are all reserved.

BANGKOK, 11 April 2014  –The Ministry of Public Health has prepared all of the 855 hospitals throughout Thailand, to help victims of road accidents, as needed. To this end 160,000 medical experts have been assembled, while authorities have taken firm measures aimed at reducing the number of road accidents during Songkran 2014.

Mr. Narong Sahametapat, M.D., Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health said large numbers of people go back to their provinces during the 5 day Songkran holiday, and roads can be very dangerous. The Ministry of Public Health has adopted measures intended to reduce the number of road accidents.

The measures in operation from 11th-17th April 2014, are 1. the setting up of 14,000 mobile medical teams to help the injured within 10 minutes of an accident happening; 2. prepare 160,000 medical experts to be stationed at hospital emergency centers around the clock, and 3. the breath testing of drink drivers.

Mr. Narong recommends not moving the injured without authorization from the medical experts, and calling 1669 for help round the clock.

BANGKOK, 11 April 2014  - The Department of Highways has set up several service points to assist the general public traveling on roads during the Songkran festival. Highway and provincial police have also been tasked with providing assistance.

Bangkok, 11 April 2014 - Women and children are vulnerable people suffering from unrest in the southern border provinces both directly and indirectly. One of the prominent organizations working actively for them is “Deep Peace,” a non-profit organization run by local Muslim women leaders. Deep Peace has recently branched out into “Perwani” which specializes in assistance for victimized women.

While Deep Peace’s mission focuses on orphans, Perwani, officially launched in March 2014 in Yala province, emphasizes the importance of aid for female victims. During the launching ceremony of the group, there was an activity called “Perwani CloseUp Program” attended by representatives of the civic sector. The group used this opportunity to clarify the rumors of a disagreement between Deep Peace and Perwani and briefed the representatives about its missions.

Chairperson of Deep Peace NureesanDolohhas explained the reason behind the establishment of Perwani, saying the new organization was set up to help tackle Deep Peace’s increasing work involving women and families. Perwani’s missions seek to help women affected by the Southern fire by creating jobs for them, developing their potential and arranging useful activities to empower them.

Most of the Deep Peace and Perwani members are teachers, civil servants and officers from various units. The fact that the two organizations are driven by full-time employed workers has led to the misunderstanding that they have recently played a less active role and have no longer worked with other organizations on women and children in the deep South.

Perwani’s urgent work is to provide assistance for grassroots women whose voice needs to be heard by the society. It is important for them to be better informed and understand the ongoing peace dialogues carried out by the government and other sectors.

Despite its support for the government's peace dialogues, the group disagrees with the enforcement of special laws in the region such as the Emergency Decree and the martial law which it believes affect freedom of the local people. A Perwani leader has said the group constantly urged the government to lift the special laws but to no avail. The leader then stressed that Deep Peace, Perwani and other groups of the likes were able to take care of local women and children by using other tools and mechanisms since they did not believe in the efficiency of the special security legislations.

LOPBURI, 11 April 2014 - Lopburi Province has established a temporary Accident Prevention and Reduction Center for this year’s Songkran Festival.

Lopburi Governor Thanakom Jongjira presided over an opening ceremony to launch the temporary road safety center under the slogan “Creating a culture of safety so that Songkran can be free of road accidents.” The center is in operation for the entire period from April 11th to April 17th.

The provincial governor also announced that six measures would be followed to help reduce road accidents. The six measures include having efficient management procedures, enforcing traffic laws, fostering the right values in society, proper road engineering, using public relations to provide information, and having emergency medical units to provide help at all times. By pursuing these goals, the province hopes to lower the number of deaths and casualties this Songkran compared to the toll last year.

Meanwhile, the Lopburi police are also enforcing stringent measures to control traffic behavior by establishing checkpoints, detecting excessive speed, and handing out fliers promoting safe driving to everybody.

NONG KHAI, 11 April 2014  — Nong Khai province has opened a road safety center to handle accident reports and any vehicle problems that arise during the Songkran Festival. 

BURIRUM 11 April 2014  — Buriram has held an age-old tradition during the Songkran holiday to pay respect to elders by pouring water on the their hands and asking for their blessings.

Thongchai Lueadul, the governor of Burirum, presided over the ceremony, during which local officials and merchants gathered to pour water on the governor’s hands and ask for his blessing as well as celebrating the Thai New Year.

Those attending the event included representatives from the Red Cross Society, local governmental officials, and merchants, who got together to pay respect to Mr. Thongchai and asked for his blessings.

Mr. Thongchai thanked all the well-wishers and reiterated that the Songkran festival itself has always been part of the Thai culture, and is the time when family and friends have a chance to meet up and enjoy the celebrations. He wished everyone well and urged all to enjoy the festivities.

BANGKOK, 11 April 2014 – The Royal Thai Police is stepping up efforts to facilitate convenience during the Songkran celebration, especially during April 11-17. 

Local authorities are set to highlight family values and traditional elements during this year’s Songkran festival, in contrast to the focus on water plays and wild celebrations in the past years.

This year, TAT will be joining with various provincial authorities to organise and host Songkran Splendours activities in 12 major provinces of the four Thai regions. Family-friendly activities will be arranged for locals and visitors during April 11-20. The theme of this year’s Songkran celebrations has been chosen to reflect the traditional beliefs that the element of water is imbued with near-miraculous qualities. Water is believed to help unite families and bring friends together.

Songkran Festival is one of the most celebrated festivals in Thailand. Songkran Day, which occurs on April 13th, marks the New Year on the ancient Thai calendar. The second day of Songkran is officially the National Family Day. Families would wake up early and offer alms to the monks before proceeding to share quality family time together.

Traditionally, Thais would politely pour a bowl of water on members of the family, their close friends and neighbours. As Songkran has taken a more festive note, a bowl is replaced by a bucket, garden hose and water guns in all provinces of the country.

Songkran is believed to have been adopted from the Sankranti Hindu festival. It coincides with the New Year of many calendars of South and Southeast Asia. In Nepal, the official New Year is celebrated on the 1st of Baisakh according to astrological calendar Vikram Samwat and the day often falls somewhere between 12–15 April.

The Water Festival in general is the New Year's celebrations that take place in Southeast Asian countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand as well as Yunnan, China. It is called the 'Water Festival' by westerners because people pour water on one another as part of the cleansing ritual to welcome the new year. The act of pouring water is also a show of blessings and good wishes. It is believed that on this Water Festival, everything old must be discarded, or it will bring the owner bad luck.

SURIN, 11 April 2014  — The Surin Municipality has announced to hold a grand celebration during the Songkran festival, with proper zoning and walking streets already established for the big event.

Deputy Governor of Surin province Pipop Damthongsuk presided over the public announcement that the province is now ready to host its grand Songkran festival celebration.

Proper zoning of the venue has already been set up in place, with OTOP products expected to be sold at the walking streets. The grand celebration will be held from April 11-19. Fun-filled activities can be expected during the event, as well as merit-making and other cultural performances.

Officials say they expect Surin this year to have a lively Songkran festival, especially within the city center. Security will also be tight in order to prevent any disorderly conduct and to ensure that the celebration runs smoothly.

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