Water load of fun as Bomba livens up Songkran festivities in George Town

GEORGE TOWN: The Siamese community in Penang welcomed Songkran or the Thai New Year by following the tradition of visiting Wat Chaiyamangalaram, a temple located in Lorong Burma, here Sunday (April 15).

Checks by Bernama found that the road is congested with devotees from the Siamese community and Buddhists from Myanmar residing in the state and celebrating the Myanmar New Year, known as the Thingyan Festival.

Facing Wat Chaiyamangalaram is the Burma Dhammikarama temple and the presence of thousands of devotees from both communities engaging in water "battles", a tradition synonymous with Songkran, enlivening the festive atmosphere.

Also seen were women in traditional costumes and tents set up near the temple, where various types of food were sold to usher in the Thai New Year in a three-day celebration starting Saturday (April 13).

Meanwhile, at Wat Buppharam in Jalan Perak, revellers, young and old, who were seen carrying colourful toy guns were treated to water sprayed from a fire engine.

A private sector employee, Leow SJ, 42, told Bernama she brought her two sons to play with water there, adding that it was the perfect way to cool down and have fun in this hot weather.

"I am a frequent visitor to this temple, and today is the Songkran festival, so I brought my children with me. They are very excited playing in the water with the people here although they don’t know each other,” she said.

Fong Kim Fatt,74, from Bukit Mertajam, came with his relatives to pray for good fortune and health.

A volunteer at the temple said the annual celebration became more significant when the Perak Lane Volunteer Fire Brigade Association sent a fire engine to enliven the festive mood.

As a part of traditional Thai culture, it is customary to welcome the new year by splashing water on each other as a cleansing ritual to wash away sins and bad luck, with the belief that this will bring good fortune and blessings for the year ahead.

In addition to water fights, locals also celebrate Songkran by visiting temples to perform a bathing ritual for Buddha statues. During this ritual, scented water is poured over the statues to wash away bad deeds from the past year symbolically. - Bernama

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