Pattaya puts traditional flourish on Songkran finale

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From north to south, east to west, Pattaya was awash in water as the area celebrated the climax of a week-long Songkran festival during which not even monks and parades can stay dry.

Capping a frenzy of street battles that started prematurely on April 9, Songkran came to a close April 18 in Naklua and April 19 in Pattaya with public officials trying to bring a semblance of tradition to Pattaya’s perverted Thai New Year celebration.

Young and old gather to pour lustral water on the Buddha.Young and old gather to pour lustral water on the Buddha.

In Naklua, the “wan lai” festivities began April 18 at 7:30 a.m. when Naklua Market-area merchants and residents marked the area’s official Songkran water-throwing day not with buckets of ice water, but religion and tradition.

Deputy Mayor Verawat Khakhay lit candles and incense and led the April 18 offering of alms to nine monks. The monks in turn blessed those attending the ceremony and lightly sprinkled water on them to remove bad fortunes. Members of the Pattaya City Council in attendance donated necessities to the monks before offering them lunch.

Navy officials and employees of Sattahip Naval base pour water on a Buddha statue and a statue of the Father of the Thai Navy, to celebrate Songkran.Navy officials and employees of Sattahip Naval base pour water on a Buddha statue and a statue of the Father of the Thai Navy, to celebrate Songkran.

Songkran alms offering and luncheons are old traditions that have been passed on from many generations. It is seen not only as a sign of respect, but a way to start the new year with hopes for prosperity.

This was followed by sprinkling of water on Buddha figures and senior citizens and, at 10 a.m., a Buddhist parade with students from Pattaya public schools participating, that ran from Lan Po to Sawang Fah Road to the Sawang Boriboon Foundation office and back again.

Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome pours lustral water on young monks at Wat Chaiyamongkol in South Pattaya.Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome pours lustral water on young monks at Wat Chaiyamongkol in South Pattaya.

Residents poured out of their houses to enjoy the water throwing festival by mid-day, paralyzing traffic despite the best efforts of police and traffic volunteers. Revelers didn’t care they were causing gridlock, instead splashing water and throwing powder on anyone they could find.

Similar scenes played out in Pattaya the next morning as Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome led the ceremony to give alms to 103 monks at Chaimongkol Temple at 8:30 a.m., followed by the usual sprinkling of water on senior citizens and monks before leaving the temple gates to be hit with much larger quantities of the wet stuff.

A Buddhist monk makes his way down Beach Road, sprinkling lustral water on the crowd.A Buddhist monk makes his way down Beach Road, sprinkling lustral water on the crowd.

The Pattaya Songkran Rose Parade struggled through crowded streets at 12:30, pushing through aquatic barrages from the temple to Walking Street to Central Festival Pattaya Beach and back again.

The city closed traffic on Beach Road to accommodate the revelers from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with hundreds packing in shoulder-to-shoulder up and down the boulevard, including at music stages at Central Festival to enjoy the tunes and get doused from upper level hoses.

Wan Lai day fun wasn’t restricted to downtown, with Songkran madness spreading all the way to Sukhumvit Road, which was bogged down with traffic trying to enter and escape the insanity. Police and volunteers tried to keep the cars flowing and prevent Songkran-fueled road rage under a scorching sun.

(L to R) Sopin Thappajug, Lewis Woody Underwood, Nittaya Patimasongkroh, Bernie Tuppin and Elfi Seitz have lustral water poured on their hands at the Songkran festivities at the Diana Garden Resort.(L to R) Sopin Thappajug, Lewis Woody Underwood, Nittaya Patimasongkroh, Bernie Tuppin and Elfi Seitz have lustral water poured on their hands at the Songkran festivities at the Diana Garden Resort.

Chonburi Deputy Mayor Pornchai Khwansakul pours lustral water on an elder person during Banglamung Elderly Home’s Songkran Festival.Chonburi Deputy Mayor Pornchai Khwansakul pours lustral water on an elder person during Banglamung Elderly Home’s Songkran Festival.

Officers work hard to help clear traffic even though they are often targets of water and powder during Wan Lai Pattaya.Officers work hard to help clear traffic even though they are often targets of water and powder during Wan Lai Pattaya.

Sukhumvit Road, South Pattaya Road, Central Pattaya Road and North Pattaya Road were veritable parking lots, as traffic was almost completely stopped for the day.Sukhumvit Road, South Pattaya Road, Central Pattaya Road and North Pattaya Road were veritable parking lots, as traffic was almost completely stopped for the day.

A more traditional approach to celebrating this holiday in Naklua.A more traditional approach to celebrating this holiday in Naklua.

Women dressed in their best flowery blouses march in the Naklua parade.Women dressed in their best flowery blouses march in the Naklua parade.

Young dancers from the north perform at Wat Chaiyamongkol in South Pattaya.Young dancers from the north perform at Wat Chaiyamongkol in South Pattaya.

One of the floats in the Naklua Wan Lai parade.One of the floats in the Naklua Wan Lai parade.

For this one day, it is quicker to walk down Sukhumvit Road than drive.For this one day, it is quicker to walk down Sukhumvit Road than drive.

Elephants go wild, spraying water on guests at the Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens.Elephants go wild, spraying water on guests at the Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens.

Beautiful foreign guests give their best Charlie’s Angels pose.Beautiful foreign guests give their best Charlie’s Angels pose.

Coyote girls dance at the Hard Rock Pattaya mini-concert.Coyote girls dance at the Hard Rock Pattaya mini-concert.

This photo says it all…This photo says it all…

It’s a banner day for pick-ups, each holding no less than three buckets of water and a half dozen partiers splashing water.It’s a banner day for pick-ups, each holding no less than three buckets of water and a half dozen partiers splashing water.

The crew in front of Pattaya Mail were certainly having fun during Wan Lai Pattaya.The crew in front of Pattaya Mail were certainly having fun during Wan Lai Pattaya.

Massic Travel set up a booth to enjoy the revelry.Massic Travel set up a booth to enjoy the revelry.

The cool water sometimes helps combat the nearly unbearable heat.The cool water sometimes helps combat the nearly unbearable heat.

Children enjoy the foam party.Children enjoy the foam party.

Not foaming at the mouth, but certainly foaming at the feet in the crazy Pattaya heat.Not foaming at the mouth, but certainly foaming at the feet in the crazy Pattaya heat.

This little squirt-gunner is prepared for the worst, and ready to dish it out, too.This little squirt-gunner is prepared for the worst, and ready to dish it out, too.

Sukhumvit Road is back up for over 5 km.Sukhumvit Road is back up for over 5 km.

Beach Road was packed from one end to the other with Songkran revelers.Beach Road was packed from one end to the other with Songkran revelers.

Pattaya puts traditional flourish on Songkran finale

PMTV