International School in Thailand: Celebrating Songkran

Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year and probably Thailand’s most famous festival. It attracts many tourists who want to join the locals as they celebrate with water to show goodwill, compassion and thankfulness whilst washing away bad luck.

The word ‘Songkran’ derives from the Sanskrit meaning “passage of the sun”, as the sun moves from Pisces into Aires in the Brahmin solar system, starting a New Year. It falls on the 13th-15th of April every year.

While the festival is celebrated nationwide, it is particularly popular in schools, where children learn about the cultural significance of Songkran and participate in various festivities. We celebrate Songkran as part of Rugby School Thailand’s annual calendar, introducing the many nationalities at our international school to this vibrant water festival. Here, we discuss what Songkran teaches children and how it is often celebrated in schools.

Songkran teaches students the importance of respecting their elders and ancestors.

At its core, Songkran is steeped in tradition, with families and communities coming together to perform various rituals to honour their ancestors. For example, one common Songkran tradition involves pouring scented water on Buddha statues and elders’ hands to show respect and seek blessings for the New Year. Our teachers use this opportunity to educate children on the importance of respect, gratitude, and humility.

Songkran teaches students to respect different cultural and religious traditions.

For our multi-cultural community, the festival brings together students to celebrate and honour the school’s different nationalities and cultural backgrounds, building on the globally-minded outlook we actively promote at Rugby School Thailand. It also teaches students to appreciate nature and the changing seasons as the nation celebrates the arrival of its rainy season.

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Songkran promotes unity and togetherness.

Through active participation in the festival and interaction with each other, Songkran brings the people in the community together, teaching students about the value and strength of society. Our school will organise cultural performances, such as traditional Thai dances or music, to showcase the country’s rich cultural heritage.

During the festival, people will also gather in the streets to celebrate and engage in fun water-throwing. This tradition symbolises the washing away of the old and the welcoming of the new, but it also brings people together in a fun and joyous way. In schools, Songkran provides an excellent opportunity to foster camaraderie and teamwork among students, as they work together to organise and participate in various activities.

Songkran highlights the importance of environmental sustainability.

While the water-throwing aspect of the festival is undoubtedly fun, it can also result in significant waste and environmental damage. In recent years, there has been a growing movement towards celebrating Songkran in a more eco-friendly way, with schools leading the charge in promoting sustainable practices.

In conclusion, Songkran marks a significant holiday in Thailand, and celebrating it in schools provides an excellent opportunity for children to learn about the country’s rich cultural heritage. By highlighting the importance of respect, unity, and environmental sustainability, Songkran teaches children valuable lessons that will stay with them throughout their lives. Whether through cultural performances, water-throwing activities, or virtual celebrations, schools can play a crucial role in promoting the significance of Songkran and preserving Thai traditions for future generations.

Rugby School Thailand is a leading British international school for 2-18 year-olds, with boarding from aged 10+. To find out more about Rugby School Thailand, click here.

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