Thailand kicks off Songkran water festival with a splash

Thailand kicks off Songkran water festival with a splash

BANGKOK, April 12 (Reuters) – Revellers in Thailand started the traditional new year or Songkran water festival with a splash on Friday, cooling off from the city’s heat by throwing water at each other on the streets of the capital Bangkok.

“(Songkran) has a lot of meaning to me because I could meet friends I hadn’t met since high school or university. It’s very fun to meet with my old friends,” said 18-year-old local Chavanin Kalayanamitra.

Pouring water symbolises cleansing, reverence and good fortune in an ancient ritual that has grown in recent decades into what is sometimes described as the world’s biggest water fight.

The boisterous festival, which officially lasts for three days but always goes on longer, is a major draw for tourists.

“It’s like a completely different world, you know. We love it,” said Flora, 30, a tourist from France.

People drenched in water sprayed each other with water guns on Bangkok’s famous backpacker Khao San Road.

“We just flew to Thailand and it’s amazing to be here for the festival,” said Chloe, 25, another French tourist.

The festival, which is also celebrated in neighbouring Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, falls at the hottest time of year when temperatures can climb above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). (Reporting by Auswin Natrayon, Additional reporting by Carol Arao and Napat Wesshasartar; Writing by Chayut Setboonsarng, Edited by Ros Russell)