Today is the second day of Songkran, the Thai New Year—also a New Year (albeit under slightly different pronunciations and traditions) celebrated by Laos, Khmers, Mons and Burmese. Beyond Southeast Asia, this “Other New Year” is also celebrated in Nepal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, Punjab and Bengal (including Bangladesh). For this holiday, I interviewed a marvelously enthusiastic Buddhist practitioner, whom I met years ago through mutual friends in America’s Midwest.
Who are you?
I’m Dome, an American-born Thai, repatriated in Thailand ☺
What’s the Buddhist significance of this holiday?
Songkran’s history with Buddhism runs deep, though only two things come to my mind that show its ties: as it is considered a New Year, new resolutions or renewing old commitments towards doing good is always a Buddhist practice. As they say, practice makes perfect. So aside from the squirt guns, powered water and the games people play to get each other wet during Songkran, some devote their time off from work to go to temples, uphold precepts, and practice their minds to achieve their New Year goals. Nonetheless, for those less bound to a temple, a Buddha image is always presented in front of offices, in neighborhood communities, or as part of a ceremony for anyone to pour water over as an act of cleansing and cooling both the receiver and giver.
What does this holiday mean to you, and how do you plan to celebrate it?
To me, Songkran is a time for reflection of things gone by and things to come. But more importantly, I reflect on my happiness and my practice. I have to admit though, my reflections in these past few years during Songkran have been short. Even now, I’ll be spending it abroad outside of Thailand! I’ll be missing all of the water fights, and the time to spend at the temples, but I continue to make this holiday a merry one!
It brings me immeasurable joy to be able to share the voices of other Asian American Buddhists with the wider Buddhist blogging community. Especially when it comes to holidays that celebrate our cultural heritage, it’s great to hear our voices speak for themselves. Suksan Wan Songkran!