Marking the end of the dry season, Songkran is also known as Thailand Water Festival or Thai New Year. It celebrates the beginning of a new flourishing rainy season that will bring harvest and lower heat. Thai people prepare for the festival with seriousness and start to clean their homes and shrines, pray and decorate the surroundings.
However, the highlight of the festival is not a family-like feast for welcoming the new season. It is so much more than that! New Year for Thai means splashing great amounts of water at each other to perform the cleansing ritual aimed to bring luck in the following year. People gather for what may be the biggest water battle in the world, and splash, splash, splash! Water is everywhere—baskets, water guns, plastic bags! Travelers say these water fights resemble Eastern European traditions like Húsvéti Locsolkodás or Wet Monday in Hungary and Wet Monday in Lviv, Ukraine.
The actual Thai New Year's Day is April 13, but the holiday period extends to April 14–15 as well. On that day, people visit their families, go to local temples and offer food to the Buddhist monks.
There is also a tradition to sprinkle each other with white talc powder, which symbolizes the security from evil spirits and guards from all the bad things that might happen.
Each region has unique Songkran traditions. In Central Thailand, one of the most vivid celebrations takes place in Phra Pradaeng. Here one can witness Mon ceremonies in a traditional way, a parade of the Mon people in the colorful traditional outfits, a spectacular floral procession, Mister and Miss Songkran Beauty Contest, and Miss Songkran parade. The city also runs merit-making activities in the temples and folk plays and cultural performances in other venues. In Northern Thailand, one of the most peculiar ceremonies is held at Ban Hat Siao in Si Satchanalai district—it's a so-called 'Elephant Procession Ordination' when on April 7, men dressed in the traditional clothes are taken to the temples on elephants.