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Celebrating Songkran The Peninsula Way

April 13, 2014
Celebrating Songkran The Peninsula Way
Every year, the whole of Thailand celebrates the Buddhist New Year, turning the country into one big party zone. Spirits soar along with the temperature as Thais savour, what for most of them, is their longest spell off work all year – a three-day public holiday from 13 to 15 April with a weekend invariably added on, enough to make the annual pilgrimage from the city to visit the folks up-country.

But there is a spiritual side to it, too. The word “Songkran”, the short-form for Thai New Year, is actually derived from the Sanskrit “samkranta”, meaning “fully passed over”. Believers hold that during these three days, the spirit of the previous year departs and a new one arrives.
The water that is splashed and fired from water pistols everywhere is significant as the principal agent of cleansing and renewal, besides benevolently helping everyone keep cool at the hottest time of the year. Indeed, Buddhists believe that this is the time when Indra, the king of the heavenly beings, visits the human world to tally the good deeds and misdeeds humans have performed in the past year. The water is necessary as a means of clearing the karmic ledger. lndra's departure on the morning of the third day marks the beginning of the new year when Buddha images are ceremonially washed and monks are offered particularly appetising almsfood.

Besides the ceremonies, Songkran nowadays is very much a festival filled with fun, dancing, singing and theatre in between getting soaked. The Peninsula Bangkok is fully in tune with both the spiritual and worldlier aspects of the festival, as it has demonstrated this past April. The celebrations mixed ceremony, dance and a lot of splashing while guests were encouraged to make the most of the occasion with a special room package, spa offers and culinary events. Each guest in the hotel was issued a special Songkran Survival Kit containing a full-option water pistol, scented powder for sprinkling on fellow travellers and a traditional Thai Songkran costume per person. Songkran amenities in the guestrooms were also set up.
Meanwhile, the hotel’s florist freshly prepared fragrant flower garlands for blessing rituals while the banquet team set up the quaint Thai riverside restaurant, Thiptara, for water blessing, which also spilled onto the Peninsula lawn.

The festivities began with a staff band procession from the Naturally Peninsula Garden. As per tradition, hotel staff poured water over the outstretched hands of the General Manager and other senior figures. A troupe of highly skilled school girls and boys in colourful traditional Thai garb danced to traditional Songkran melodies and then everyone splashed water on one another in the spirit of a typical Songkran festival in old villages.

Especially for the occasion, The Peninsula Spa created a new treatment dubbed the “Spa Splash”, which was aimed at refreshing and rejuvenating the mind and body as well as beating the summer heat. The package included a 30-minute full body scrub followed by an exquisite 50-minute aromatic body massage. After the refreshing retreat, guests could zero-in on a Songkran edition of The Peninsula Afternoon Tea featuring specially selected imported ingredients, including authentic scones with clotted cream.

Another classic Songkran festival at The Peninsula Bangkok concluded with everyone feeling relaxed, refreshed and ready to make the coming year even better than the last.