Nord Anglia Education
St Andrews Bangkok
05 April, 2022

Head's Lines: Celebrating four-regional Thai New Year

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According to the Brahmin solar system, Songkran - the traditional Thai New Year festival, takes place when the sun moves from Pisces into Aries. Derived from Sanskrit,  Songkran means to move or step forward by embracing goodwill, love, compassion and thankfulness, using water as a means of expression.

Songkran: Celebrating four-regional Thai New Year

Songkran is a tradition that celebrates the Thai New Year according to the Lunar calendar. The neighbouring countries around Thailand, as well as other countries all over the world, also celebrate this occasion. People wish to start the New Year with good things in their lives. Therefore, Thai people perform many good deeds to put themselves in the best state of mind and to symbolise all the good things they wish to happen. Examples of these deeds include giving alms to the monks, pouring water on the Buddha image, pouring water on their respected elders to pay respect to them and get their blessing, cleaning every nook and cranny of their houses, going to the temple to do merits, listening to the teachings of the respected monk, meeting with their friends and relatives to enjoy elaborate meals together, and then doing fun activities like building sand pagodas, water splashing, etc. It is a time of happiness and hope that the upcoming New Year will bring about good things and that all sadness and difficulties will be overcome. 

Similar to other Asian countries, Thailand has been a land mixed with many ethnicities, religions and dialects. Hundreds of years ago, Suvarnabhumi or Land of Gold encompassed a group of established kingdoms each with their own cultures and lifestyles based on their unique geographic and demographic influences. Therefore, this year, our Songkran theme is “Four-Region Songkran Celebration 2022” so our students can learn about the traditional Thai New Year celebrations in the four regions of Thailand: Northern, North-Eastern/E-sarn, Central and Southern.

Four regions of Thailand: Northern, North-Eastern/E-sarn, Central and Southern

In the Northern region surrounded by high mountains and forest, the climate is cold and serene. The music and dances are slow, sweet and elegant. A lot of legends related to the mythical forest are told. Dances of half-man half-bird creatures, called ‘Ging-ga-ra’ (กิงกะหรา)  in the mythical Himmapan forest, originated by the Tai Yai (ไตใหญ่) tribe are presented in several local Northern celebrations.  

The North-Eastern or E-sarn land is a plateau and often had droughts in the olden days. Therefore, people lived rough lives and learned to be strong and active. A remarkable sense of humour and the ability to find happiness in the small things of life also developed in the people, and these characteristics served well to help them successfully survive in the dry land. The E-sarn dances or ‘Serng’, consequently, are lively and quick movements reflecting the characteristics of people in this region. 

The local people in the Central region have had a lot of influences from Royal music and dances, as well as Thai classical literature and fairy tales. Although ‘Li-kay’ originated from Southern dance, it has been transformed into unique Thai local Central performances. With prince- and princess-like glittering costumes, this type of musical performance is often based on popular romantic folklore. 

The Southern region has its uniqueness of being close to the seas, having a lot of trading with merchants from various parts of the world. People there have developed confident and out-going personalities. Since the ancient Southern kingdom overlapped between Thailand and Malaysia nowadays, Southern people have been influenced by Malaysian culture in many ways. The popular Southern dance, ‘No-ra’, performed slowly, confidently and skilfully, is unique in both its dance movement, music and costume. 

With the ‘New Normal’ way of celebrating Songkran at STA this year, students and staff will come in Songkran shirts, and students will enjoy the many activities provided for them in and outside classrooms.

Primary School Celebrations

In Primary School, we continue to celebrate Songkran in a ‘New Normal’ way. Despite the cancellation of a few traditional activities like giving alms to monks, live assembly and water splashing, we try to assure that children have a chance to appreciate the value and beauty of Thai traditional New Year celebrations in 4 different regions through the following activities:

  • Children in every Thai class learn about the similarities and differences of Songkran celebrations in 4 regions in Thai lessons during Week 6-7. They are also encouraged to give creative ideas on how to have Songkran water splashing in a New Normal way while maintaining tradition. 

  • Children enjoy having actual practice of an important Songkran activity, which is pouring water on the Buddha image. They will also role play to understand the proper etiquette of giving alms to monks. Those who are not Buddhists will observe these activities to understand the meaning and etiquette when participating in these ceremonies.

  • On the Tuesday 5th of April, all children will watch a video of the 4-region Songkran celebration activities including student representatives pouring water on respected adults, teachers and school staff, a performance by Thai dance club presenting the famous Li-kay Hulu of the Muslim Malayoo people in Southern Thailand, and a Thai fun music performance, “Rumwong Rerng Songkran”,  presented by PS students led by Ms Marie and the Music Department.

  • During the day, children will also enjoy making a toy or a local art and craftwork of one of the four regions. Year 5 and 6 students have produced a “How to” video clip along with examples teaching the other children to do their own work with their class teachers: Year 1-2 making “Toong” - a Northern type flag, Year 3-4 making “Look-karng”, a popular toy in the Central region, Year 5 making “Bung-Fai” an E-sarn type of rocket shot into the sky to ask for rain, and Year 6 making “Nung Ta-loong” a shadow puppet originating from the Southern region. For children who learn through VSE, they will instead be encouraged to participate in an online game that provides information about Songkran celebrations in the 4 regions.    

High School Celebrations 

At the High School, a lot of ‘New Normal’ Songkran activities will be performed by students and teachers together as follows:

  • On Monday 4th we had music performances by Key Stage 4-5 Thai students during the break at the Atrium decorated by Year 12-13 Thai students.

  • Tomorrow, Tuesday 5th, there will be: 

“Water pouring on the Buddha image” activity located near the school coffee shop for anyone who wants to take part 

At Breaktime: 

  • Four-region dance presented by Thai dance club;

  • Thai music presented by our Thai student, Thai teacher, and expat teachers - Mr Diego and Ms Sasha;

  • A solo on a beautiful song by our guest musician from the Culture, Sports and Tourism Department, BMA;

  • Thai Cover “Songkran Ruam-jai” song by Year 11 - 13 Thai students.

During Lunch break:

  • House game: Filling water into the bottle

    • Key Stage 3 @ 12:15-12:30 pm

    • Key Stage 4 @ 12:45-  1:00 pm

Period 6:  

1:30-2:00 pm

  • Key Stage 3 & 4 (Year 7 - 11) watching “Songkran” video clip and join in the “Songkran Quiz” in their classrooms;

  • KS5 House game: Filling water into the bottle.

2:00-2:30 pm

  • Year 13 pouring water on their respected teachers organised by Year 12, followed by a Guard of Honour by a Year 12 student;

  • Key Stage 3 & 4 (Year 7 - 11) watching the live stream of senior students’ water ceremony. 

We wish you all a happy Thai New Year and have a fun and safe Songkran vacation. 


STA Thai Department