Songkran – a traditional start

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No sooner has the month of April arrived and people are making plans to leave Pattaya. Social network sites are full of people, mostly expatriates, complaining about too much water being wasted and moaning about getting freezing water thrown over them by passing pick-up trucks.

But for many, Songkran is not just about standing on the side of the road and throwing water. It is an ancient ceremony to celebrate the arrival of the new year. A time when people return to their hometowns to spend time with their families, pay respect to their elders and enjoy the festivities.

Families visit local temples and pour scented water over the statues of the Lord Buddha; washing away the old and making everything clean for the coming year.

Brother Denis was the first to wash the statue of Father Ray.Brother Denis was the first to wash the statue of Father Ray.

Each year at the start of Songkran, the children from the Father Ray Children’s Home, Children’s Village and the Drop-In Center gather together, and this year they were joined by the students from the School for the Blind.

On the morning of Saturday the 13th, the first day of Songkran, the ceremony started with the cleaning of the statue of Father Ray, founder of the Foundation. Brother Denis, Vice President of the Foundation, was first to be invited to wash the statue of his old friend.

This was then followed by all the children, workers and foreign volunteers saying a silent prayer before pouring water over the statue of Buddha. They then passed by the more senior members of the staff and poured water over their hands and received a sprinkling back in return.

While the traditional ceremony was taking place the younger boys were filling up their water pistols ready to give everyone a soaking.

The traditional ceremony is a great start to the Songkran festivities, but on the 19th April all the children from the Father Ray Foundation were standing on the side of Sukhumvit Road throwing water at passers by and having a great time.

A young resident from the Children’s Village.A young resident from the Children’s Village.

Songkran is not all about throwing water.Songkran is not all about throwing water.

The blind students also took part in the ceremony.The blind students also took part in the ceremony.

The Danish volunteers also took part in the traditional ceremony.The Danish volunteers also took part in the traditional ceremony.

There was always someone on hand to help the blind students.There was always someone on hand to help the blind students.

The Drop-In Center kids also turned up.The Drop-In Center kids also turned up.

Not quite understanding what is going on, but looking beautiful.Not quite understanding what is going on, but looking beautiful.

Pouring water over the hands of the elders is an important part of the ceremony.Pouring water over the hands of the elders is an important part of the ceremony.

Boys being boys they could not wait to start soaking everyone.Boys being boys they could not wait to start soaking everyone.