Long Live Songkran

The pinnacle of the kids’ summer holidays has arrived and is still going on. Songkran or the Thai Buddhist New Year has fallen on the 12-16 April this year. For the first time ever many of the children have gone home to families and relatives for the summer holidays and will spend Songkran with them. The villages are full of families reunited, people coming back to their home towns from the big cities to pay their respects to their parents, the monks at the temples and elderly relatives. For 4 days and sometimes longer depending on where Songkran is celebrated -  it’s serious holiday time. Water is everywhere and everyone is wet no matter how young or old.


This year as Sarnelli House is being repaired and there is building equipment and material everywhere in Don Wai, the Songkran celebrations were moved to Jan and Oscar House in Pi Si Tong . A stage was set up under the shade between the dining room and Jan and Oscar House.  The celebration started off on Saturday 13th April with the pouring of fragrant water on Fr Shea, Fr Ole and Brother Keng. All the children and staff knelt in front of each of them and poured water over their hands for a blessing to them and a sign of respect and love. A competition was then held between all the houses. A staff member and a child from each house were chosen to dress up and they came on stage and were judged by a set of questions, their dancing ability, their costumes and the applause each one received from the audience. The winners this year was Mrs Da a house mother from Sarnelli House and Heart the youngest boy at Sarnelli House. Amongst the other competitors were Ms Mon and Maggie from House of Hope, Ms …. and Jane from Viengkhuk, Jack and Mrs …. from St Patrick’s St, Gao and Rim from Jan and Oscar, Mrs Fa and Neey from Nazareth House.   

While all the dancing, singing and judging was going on the kids were experimenting with their water pistols and were being lured out the front of Jan and Oscar House to the large drums filled with water.   From early Saturday morning till late Saturday evening all of the kids remained soaked! With a short but much needed break to eat lunch from the talented hands of Mrs Wan and her team in the kitchen, every one ate, sitting dripping wet, then they were then ready to go out and play again.

Sunday morning was more of the same, starting with Mass at Pi Si Tong and Don Wai where the elderly folk who attended were blessed with fragrant water for Songkran. This was followed by water throwing out the front of Jan and Oscar House, the Karaoke machine was blasting out and even the little kids from House of Hope came out to play.  After lunch one of the highlights of Songkran for the children, was boarding the 2 school trucks with full drums of water inside which are used to fill water pistols and buckets full of water and to throw out the truck at people. These trucks have no windows, just bars and so the kids are sitting ducks for the pick ups driving in the opposite direction who also have drums of water in the back and people squashed into standing room only. Driving along the road into Nongkhai which is parallel to the Mekong River, people have huge fire hoses pumping water from the river and blasting it onto everyone.  Also there are people and families lining the streets with their hoses, ice chests and massive water containers madly throwing water to whatever or whoever passes in front of them. This is all done in a true Thai spirit of fun, and getting a mouth and ear full of water or a blast of iced water in the face is all part of the fun and no one gets upset or cross. The trucks driven by Pi Wit and Fr Ole headed into Pi Si Tong about 4 hours later with the traffic bumper to bumper and 10 cm of water sloshing in the back of the trucks, the kids and volunteers are deposited home, some still shivering from the last unexpected bucket load of iced water that came crashing over them, but all of them happy and exhausted.  

It’s Monday now and the same thing is happening all over the country as was happening in the last 2 days. The kids’ energy has not flagged but some of the staff and volunteers are digging deep for a third day of madness and fun.  Happy Thai New Year!!