“Having fun is a big part of Thai culture, and contradictory to what you may have witnessed throughout Songkran, fun-loving Thais don't just throw water at each other for no good reason -- besides enjoying seeing other people soaking wet and cooling down from the heat,” Charinya Kiatlapnachai, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s New York office, tells me. “The real meaning behind the splashes is to symbolically wash off all misfortunes in the past year, thus welcoming the new year with a fresh new start and happiness.”
Out West, the event doesn't have quite the cachet of other country’s cultural celebrations. Yet.
What is Songkran?
Brazil has Carnival. New Orleans has Mardi Gras. Thailand has Songkran, a historic and trip-worthy culture event unto itself. The Buddhist solar new year, whose name comes from the Sanskrit word for "passing," dates back thousands of years -- back to when the Buddha himself doled out wisdom. Put down the water guns and turn down the ear-rattling dance music for a moment to recognize what’s really going on.