It was a traditional Songkran celebration at the Pattaya City Expats Club meeting on April 15. Pettipont, in traditional Thai costume (a friend of club member Sermsakdi, who made the arrangements for the celebration) greeted members and guests as they entered the Amari’s Tavern by the Sea Restaurant. Restaurant Manager Tok and member Marjorie Bassett were also on hand to extend greetings. They offered those entering an opportunity to pour water over the golden Buddha while it was resting on the Tavern’s front desk, and to perform a ceremonial wai.
When the meeting opened, master of ceremonies, Richard Silverberg, after a few introductory comments, turned the meeting over to Noi Nongkoonoi, manager and chief guide for the Sanctuary of Truth. Noi explained the unique history of the Songkran celebration – its origin as the Thai celebration of the New Year according to the lunar calendar, and the importance of the ceremony that all were about to participate in. Noi explained that the ancient ceremony was performed as a showing of respect for the family’s elders, monks, and others of significance to the family or the village. The water, having been cleansed by being poured over the shoulder of the Buddha is considered “Lustral Water”, and is poured over the hands of the elders and others selected by the family as a gesture of respect and hope for the New Year.
Noi of Pattaya’s famous Sanctuary of Truth shares with PCEC members and guests the traditional origin and practice of Songkran – slightly different to the common practice of today.
The Club was honored to have a very special guest in attendance, Satil Kunplome. She is the mother of five children. They all have achieved important elective or appointive positions in Thai government including the mayor of Pattaya and the mayor of Bang Saen. She is also a noteworthy member of the Thailand Women’s Development Group. At the club’s invitation, she graciously joined other “elders” of the club at the front table to be honored in this very important Thai traditional Songkran ceremony. To add to the occasion Satil was dressed in a traditional Thai ladies costume of the time. She was accompanied by two friends and her driver who also participated in the ceremony.
Following the pouring of the Lustral Water, Noi talked very knowingly about the ceremony that everyone had just experienced and its importance to the Thai people. Those in attendance felt that they had participated in a lovely and moving traditional celebration from Thai history. The club prides itself on having had continuous meetings since its founding eleven years ago. Rather than suspending its meetings during the hectic water throwing exuberance of Pattaya’s Songkran Festival, during the past few years the club has fostered the true meaning of Songkran to their fellow expats by holding a traditional Songkran celebration.
Following the ceremony, all posed for a group photo.
MC Richard Silverberg then updated everyone on upcoming events. This was followed by the always informative and sometime humorous Open Forum where questions are asked and answered about expat living in Thailand, Pattaya in particular. The Pattaya City Expats Club meets every Sunday. Read more about the Club’s activities on their website at www.pattayacityexpatsclub.com.
Arriving at the Pattaya City Expats Club’s annual Songkran celebration, member Marjorie performs the ‘washing of the Buddha’.
A tender moment as member Richard LeCavalier receives Songkran blessing from his lovely Thai wife, Phap.
Guest of Honor Madame Satil Kunplome receives the traditional Songkran blessing from PCEC member Janet Smith, while her husband Richard Smith receives the same from Pattaya Blatt’s editor, Elfi Seitz.