Songkran comes to a watery end

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The “fun” lasted over a week, beginning in many places around Pattaya on April 12 and coming to a watery end on the 19th.

The “wan lai” water-throwing finales in Naklua, April 18, and Pattaya, April 19, saw streets mobbed with soggy, powder-covered and often-drunk revelers with street vendors offering up more weapons and drink, and police simply trying keep traffic crawling.

In Naklua, Religious services began at Lan Po Park at 7 a.m. April 18, followed by alms giving to 99 monks at 7:45 a.m. At 9 a.m., ceremonial water was sprinkled on a Lord Buddha statue and the elderly. The annual Buddha parade marched through the market and park communities.

Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome pours water on Lord Buddha during Naklua Wan Lai.Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome pours water on Lord Buddha during Naklua Wan Lai.

The following day in Pattaya, Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome started the alms-giving ceremony at 7:30 a.m. and sprinkled water on a Lord Buddha statue and the elderly an hour later. The annual city parade slogged through the streets from Chaimongkol Temple to Walking Street and back, offering the devout an opportunity to cleanse their soles by splashing water on Buddha statues whilst receiving blessings from the monks riding on the floats carrying the statues, sprinkling holy water on the masses from their wisps.

Pattaya officials stationed fire trucks, portable toilets and other facilities along Beach Road, which was closed to traffic from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Adding to the waterplay were concerts along Beach Road, including the Spy stage at the Hard Rock Café where models sprayed water on fans as they listened to Slot Machine.

At Central Festival Pattaya Beach, partiers kept cool with a foam party, finally putting down their water guns for a 7 p.m. concert from Paradoxm Joey Box and Singh Nua Sua Tai.

Lord Buddha looks completely at peace during the flower parade.Lord Buddha looks completely at peace during the flower parade.

Throughout the week, gentler activities were staged in many other areas throughout Pattaya.

The Diana Group and Pattaya Press Association held their water-blessing ceremony for the elderly on April 13 at the Diana Garden Resort.  Hotel group Managing Director Sopin Thappajug welcomed Chonyanmunee, abbot of Uthokkhepsimaram Temple and three monks to the event to administer the pouring of water on a statue of Lord Buddha and local senior citizens.

Sopin said. “It is a custom that must be preserved as it shows the gratitude, love and unity amongst individuals in society and families.”

Attending the event was MP Poramet Ngampichet, Pattaya Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh, and local business leaders.

Hotel guests and staff at the Dusit Thani Pattaya celebrated Songkran on April 13 with the traditional pouring of scented water over the hands of elders as a gesture of respect. This also symbolizes a fresh start in the coming year. Prior to the Buddhist ceremony performed by twenty-nine monks and novices, alms giving was performed at the Napalai foyer where hotel guests also joined with their own donations.

Revered monks sprinkle holy water on the masses.Revered monks sprinkle holy water on the masses.

Chonburi City celebrated the start of another Thai New Year with its annual Songkran festival beginning April 11.  Gov. Khomsan Ekachai and Culture Minister Sonthaya Kunplome kicked off the festivities in front of the Chonburi provincial offices. The event ran through April 19.

The festival, which began in 1932, combines the ceremony venerating Puttha Sihing with celebrations of Songkran and the Red Cross Fair together into one. Activities included a procession for venerating Phra Puttha Sihing Buddha image, water pouring for the elders, folk games, classical masked-dances from the Department of Fine Arts, cultural performance, exhibitions and stalls.  Festivities also included arts exhibitions, a Songkran parade, Miss Songkran pageant, sports competitions, sales of locally made products, Chinese movies, and concerts every night. Concerts featured artists Jintra Poonlap, Bangkaew, Ying Thittkarn, Kathleeya Marsree, Pol Pol, Carabao, Super Valentine and Buaphan.

Citizens and tourists pour water on the Buddha statues and receive blessings in return from the monks in the parade.Citizens and tourists pour water on the Buddha statues and receive blessings in return from the monks in the parade.

Meanwhile, in Chonburi, Anchisa Kerdsirikul won the Ms. Songkran pageant, taking home 50,000 baht in cash and prizes.  This year saw 25 women compete for over 100,000 baht in prizes. All had to wear Thai traditional dress and introduce themselves to the audience. Fifteen made the final round.

Parichat Jiewphanit of Phanasnikhon won the Media Favorite award. Following Anchisa, who was sponsored by Coco Hill, were runners-up Phattreeya Namcharoen, sponsored by Chonburi’s legal department, and Parichat, sponsored by the city of Phanasnikhon

The mayor and council members pour water on elders in the Naklua community.The mayor and council members pour water on elders in the Naklua community.

Heading a bit southward, elephants at Nong Nooch Tropical Garden put a twist on Pattaya’s Songkran celebration, using their built-in water guns to hose down revelers. Sattahip District Chief Phawat Lertmukda, Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome, and Tourism Authority of Thailand Pattaya office Director Athapol Vannakit opened the April 13 festival.

More than 40 elephants participated in the Songkran parade with nine of them pouring water on a statue of Lord Buddha and others spraying tourists. The tourists quickly found their tiny water pistols were no match for the water-blowing power of a pachyderm’s trunk.

Celebrations in Sattahip kicked into full swing on April 17 and centered around Soi Bonkai.  Booming automobile stereos had teenage girls and somewhat older women-of-the-second-category dancing the day away as youths splashed everyone and everything that moved.  There were reports of many arrests for drunk driving.

Mayor Itthiphol shows he can dance.Mayor Itthiphol shows he can dance.

The foyer outside the Dusit Thani Pattaya’s Napalai Convention Hall is filled with hotel guests and staff who make merit by giving donations to the twenty-nine monks, who will later distribute the goods to among the community.The foyer outside the Dusit Thani Pattaya’s Napalai Convention Hall is filled with hotel guests and staff who make merit by giving donations to the twenty-nine monks, who will later distribute the goods to among the community.

Staff and guests at the Diana Garden Resort pour lustral water on older guests and hotel group Managing Director Sopin Thappajug (right).Staff and guests at the Diana Garden Resort pour lustral water on older guests and hotel group Managing Director Sopin Thappajug (right).

Anchisa Kerdsirikul won Chonburi’s Ms. Songkran pageant, taking home 50,000 baht in cash and prizes.Anchisa Kerdsirikul won Chonburi’s Ms. Songkran pageant, taking home 50,000 baht in cash and prizes.

Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome leads council members in dancing traditional dance whilst leading the parade around Naklua market.Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome leads council members in dancing traditional dance whilst leading the parade around Naklua market.

The youngsters at Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens soon learn that their water guns are no match for the elephants trunks.The youngsters at Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens soon learn that their water guns are no match for the elephants trunks.

One of the Spy girls on the Hard Rock Cafe stage blasts cooling water on revelers.One of the Spy girls on the Hard Rock Cafe stage blasts cooling water on revelers.

Spy girls spray water on people from the Hard Rock Cafe stage.Spy girls spray water on people from the Hard Rock Cafe stage.

It’s pure mayhem in Naklua.It’s pure mayhem in Naklua.

Kids young and old love playing Songkran.Kids young and old love playing Songkran.

What did we get ourselves into!What did we get ourselves into!

Car stereos set to full blast prompt the girls in Sattahip to shake their booties.Car stereos set to full blast prompt the girls in Sattahip to shake their booties.

A squirt in the face helps wash the powder away.A squirt in the face helps wash the powder away.

It’s shoulder-to-shoulder at the Central Pattaya Beach foam party.It’s shoulder-to-shoulder at the Central Pattaya Beach foam party.

Even the top police officers are not immune from the fun.Even the top police officers are not immune from the fun.

Police were out in force to try and keep drunk drivers off the road and hopefully save lives.Police were out in force to try and keep drunk drivers off the road and hopefully save lives.