Tribal Trappings – Asian Ethnic Art, Artifacts, Textiles and Folk Art Tribal Trappings – Thoughts about Thailand, Chiang Mai, things tribal including textiles, ethnographica and folk art <data:blog.pageTitle/>

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wet, Wet, Wet!

Sawadee Bpee Mai! We are still recovering from the festivities of Songkran, or Thai New Year. For about a week the country, and Chiang Mai especially, engages in water wars partly out of tradition and partly as relief from the oppressive heat and dryness of April. Originally a rite of fertility and cleansing, intending to wash away the old year and bring renewal and good blessings for the new one, Songkran celebrates the transition from Aries to Taurus, and is based on the lunar calendar and traditional agricultural cycles. It began with pre-Buddhist Dai, or Tai, people who migrated from southern China and now populate Burma, Thailand, Laos and parts of Vietnam. Contrary to what most tourists here think, it is a gentle celebration with religious overtones.

My favorite part is the parade of venerable Buddhas down Tha Pae Road. Special lustral water is carefully prepared with certain flowers and other fragrant ingredients for cleansing the Buddhas as they go by on beautiful flower-bedecked floats (sometimes pickups). One tosses or ladles the water, and then collects some of what has touched the Buddha to further enhance all the freely flowing good blessings. Respect is also shown to elders, who are gently annointed by younger people with a small cupful of water poured over a shoulder and down the back. Traditional dress is the order of the day, and jasmine flower leis are worn and given. This year one could still see vestiges of the traditional ways of celebrating, tho many foreigners seemed oblivious as they sported the latest dayglo waterguns, and revealing clothing. Herewith, some images from the Buddha Parade: