|Wat Chayamankalaram Thai Buddhist Temple|
Today kicks off the New Years Celebration in both Thailand and Myanmar. In Thai, it's called "Songkran," and in Burmese, it's "Thingyan." The primary way to celebrate is by throwing water on each other. Doesn't that sound like the perfect way to cool off on a hot day? In Penang, the Thai Buddhist Temple and the Burmese Buddhist Temple sit across the street from each other which makes this place the center of action.
|The gateway to the Thai temple is in the center while the ornate red entrance to |
the Burmese temple across the street is on the left.
Throngs of people clogged the streets and sometimes blocked traffic. As I searched for a parking spot, a truck full of revelers pegged my car with a stream of water from a Super Soaker. Thumping music filled the air and reverberated through my bones. This was some kind of celebration!
The sacred side of the Thai Songkran festival involves visiting the temple to bring food for the monks and cleansing Buddha images by pouring water over them. This garners good luck and prosperity in the New Year.
Traditionally, the water that had been blessed by washing over the Buddha image was gently poured on the shoulders of elders and family. This has since evolved into one giant water fight. I'd say that I saw maybe 5 people blessing Buddha and 200 shooting water at each other.
Everyone seemed to be fair game, and I got doused a number of times. One dude even got me with talcum powder which is a reference to the chalk used by Buddhist monks to mark blessings.
Water guns seemed to be the weapon of choice. Forget to bring yours? No worries, they sell them by the side of the street. Or you can just use a water bottle and pour it on each other. Kids shot adults. Adults retaliated. It seemed like a good time for everyone.
Things seemed a bit drier on the Burmese temple side. But it was much, much louder. This was the source of all the music, and they had a giant dance party going on.
After a while, I made my way back to the car just in time to pick up the kids from school. Happy New Year!
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