Thailand celebrates dry ‘water festival’ for 3rd year – Xinhua


Performers take part in a street parade celebrating the Songkran festival in Ayutthaya, Thailand, April 13, 2022. (Xinhua/Wang Teng)

The traditional Songkran New Year festival is celebrated in Thailand. Despite the ban on splashing water due to COVID-19, many other events such as handicraft exhibitions, Buddha statue water pouring rituals and food markets are promoted for people to come together to enjoy the festivities in a safer and drier way.

BANGKOK, April 15 (Xinhua) — For the third year in a row, Thailand is celebrating its traditional Songkran New Year in waterless mode, though the country is about to lift most of the COVID-19 control measures once and for all. 19 in the near future.

A parade of young Thais in colorful traditional costumes, an elephant with a lady elegantly dressed as a “Songkran Goddess” on her back, and live music and dancers, marked this year’s New Year celebration in the ancient capital. Ayutthaya Thai Wednesday, the first day of Songkran.

Handicraft exhibitions, Buddha statue water pouring rituals, as well as a food market, local authorities are working to bring people together to enjoy the festivities in a safer and drier way.

To better contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country, the Thai government has banned water splashing, powder coating and foam parties, for which the Songkran festival is most famous.

Performers take part in a street parade celebrating the Songkran festival in Ayutthaya, Thailand, April 13, 2022. (Xinhua/Wang Teng)

Instead, this year’s event focused on traditional and cultural aspects of the holiday, such as family values ​​and ancient ceremonies, according to Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT ).

Ekarat, a Thai visitor to the show on Wednesday night, told Xinhua that he noticed the efforts of the event organizers who try to explain the cultural stories of Thailand from historical scenarios in the form of performance.

For foreigners like David, a young tourist from Singapore, it was exciting to see that bigger events could once again be held in Thailand. However, he was a little disappointed with the lack of water shows.

Unlike the previous two years, the country’s COVID-19 task force this year allowed inter-provincial travel and further relaxed border control measures to attract more international visitors.

Performers take part in a street parade celebrating the Songkran festival in Ayutthaya, Thailand, April 13, 2022. (Xinhua/Wang Teng)

Since the start of Songkran week, the railway system has seen a huge increase in passenger traffic. TAT estimated that during the long holiday, the Southeast Asian nation will welcome a total of 3.34 million Thai and foreign tourists.

Despite the ban on splashing water, social media revealed people playing with water guns in some tourist hotspots such as Patong Beach on Phuket Island and Bangkok’s busy Khaosan Road Wednesday evening, prompting the government to reaffirm the ban the next day.

Special forces and tourist police were sent to the area on Thursday, to prevent violations of COVID-19 measures. Several roadblocks with police checkpoints have been set up at both ends of Khao San Road.

“The number of visitors is the same as yesterday,” Champ, a Khaosan Road vendor, told Xinhua on Thursday. He is happy to see people flocking to the streets to celebrate the festival that keeps his business going.

This is in stark contrast to how Khaosan Road looked just a few months ago when it looked like a ghost town.

Performers take part in a street parade celebrating the Songkran festival in Ayutthaya, Thailand, April 13, 2022. (Xinhua/Wang Teng)

However, popular places with crowds celebrating Songkran also posed a risk of COVID-19 outbreaks, which are predicted by medical experts ahead of the holidays.

Thailand’s health ministry said the long holidays could intensify the spread of the coronavirus, with the number of new cases expected to top 100,000 a day thereafter.

Prasit Watanapa, dean of the faculty of medicine at Siriraj Hospital, said the death rate in Thailand was currently 3 to 4 times the government’s target of 0.1%.

He warned that in the face of a post-Songkran rise in daily cases, the government must keep the number of one-day deaths below 200 and the number of hospitalizations manageable to prevent the health system from being overwhelmed.

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