The ‘Songkran Festival’ really began in Northern Thailand when people took the remainder of their precious water supplies and used them to cleanse the images of Buddha in their local temples. In doing so, they believed that they would wash away the bad things from the previous year and bring good luck and prosperity for the next. After cleansing the images of Buddha, they would then ritually anoint the hands and feet of family elders before taking handfuls of dirt to the temples in order to replace that which had been taken away on the soles of their feet. The earth redelivered to the temples is then built up into towers, the higher and bigger the tower, the more important the temple is seen to be in the lives of it‘s congregation.
All of these traditional things still happen today and I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in all of them, but it’s as difficult to separate Songkran from the partying as it is to separate Christmas from the presents. So I wont even try. I’ll leave Wikipedia to explain the cultural history and I’ll concentrate on immersing myself in the more frivolous elements of Songkran ….. mai pen rai