|An ingenious variation on the traditional water ceremony at a temple on Koh Kred.|
© Andy Brown/2011/Thailand
The word Songkran comes from the Sanskrit ‘saṃkrānti’ meaning astrological passage. It lasts for three days, from 13 to 15 April, and falls into two distinct parts. In the mornings, Thais go to visit their elders and pour water on their hands as a sign of respect. Then they go to the temple and wash Buddha statues with water and flower petals from golden bowls.
At work this week, we had a short ceremony where we poured water over Anupama and Tomoo’s hands – the heads of UNICEF’s regional and country offices respectively. We also saw temples where ritual washing was in progress. At one, on the island of Koh Kred in the Chao Praya river, an ingenious contraption had been set up. For a donation, you got a bowl of water that you attached to the claws of a golden bird. By turning a wheel, you activated a series of pulleys that hoisted the bird on a cable up to the top of a temple spire, where its bowl tipped over, pouring water and petals down the side of the building.