Reviving Tradition: Songkran Water Festival Celebrations Return Amid Eased Covid-19 Restrictions
After three years of subdued celebrations due to Covid-19 restrictions, the traditional New Year water fights and splashing events have made a spirited comeback. The revelry has resumed, though it’s not without concerns from authorities and traditionalists in Thailand.
Conservative Concerns Surrounding Songkran
Each year, the sight of scantily clad participants engaging in exuberant water battles incites a wave of apprehension among conservative Thais, as well as local authorities. As this year marks the first time in four years that Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted for Songkran celebrations, the potential for rowdy behavior is at an all-time high.
Four Rules to Maintain Order During Celebrations
Authorities have established four strict guidelines for both Thais and foreigners participating in Songkran festivities in an effort to maintain order during the water festival:
- No nudity
- No going half-naked
- No face-daubing powder
- No high-pressure water guns
An Influx of Foreign Tourists for Songkran
With over 300,000 foreign tourists expected to join the festivities in Bangkok and other tourist-heavy provinces, authorities designated a total of 198 areas for the New Year celebrations. These include organized events featuring traditional Thai New Year activities, such as sprinkling water over Buddha images, alongside parties, live music, and water splashing activities.
Khao San Road: A Test for Songkran Rules
The four new rules will face a significant challenge at Bangkok’s Khao San Road, known for hosting some of Thailand’s wildest Songkran celebrations in the past. On Thursday, the first day of Songkran, around 40,000 Thai and foreign revelers participated in the water fight at this busy backpacker destination.
However, at 8 pm, police temporarily halted entry for attendees, as they determined that Khao San Road was at risk of becoming dangerously overcrowded. Local businesses anticipate around 30,000 to 40,000 visitors, both Thai and foreign, to flock to the street during the Songkran holiday.
Despite the challenges, partygoers are eager to return to the Khao San Songkran festivities, where they will continue to celebrate today and tomorrow.