Every year, the 13th of April marks one of the most important holidays in many South and Southeast Asian countries, including Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Sri Lanka. Although each nation has slightly different customs, they all share mutual traditions of singing, dancing, and merrymaking on the streets. The highlight of Songkran is undoubtedly streets filled with jovial public water fights – which is why the holiday is best known to westerners as the ‘Water Festival’.
Dry Celebrations During the Pandemic
Though this year countries across Southeast Asia have prohibited water splashing, foam parties, concerts and parades in order to control the spread of COVID-19, other traditional activities and private gatherings are still permitted. Worshippers in these predominantly Buddhist countries attend temple to pour water over statues or monks for new year blessings. This period is also expected to see a spike in domestic travel when people go to the beach to build sand pagodas or back to the countryside to visit their family.
The Solar Calendar in Southeast Asia
As opposed to Lunar New Year (celebrated in China, Vietnam and Korea) which occurs on the second new moon after winter solstice, much of South and Southeast Asia bases their calendar off the movement of the sun. Songkran marks when the sun formally crosses the Aries constellation in the sky, which occurs around the 14th of April every year. But more importantly, this holiday commemorates the end of the harvest season and a time for farmers to finally reap the benefits of their hard labour before the wet monsoon season begins.
Celebrate the Solar New Year with Heritage Line
Heritage Line offers captivating river voyages to a three Southeast Asian countries which commemorate the Solar New Year: Myanmar (Ayeyarwady and Chindwin Rivers), Laos (Upper Mekong River) and Cambodia (Lower Mekong River). Book an April cruise with us next year to experience Songkran for yourself while also benefitting from our Early Bird Offer!