Hey guys and ladies. Wish you could have been here last week. Last week was Songkran – Thai New Year – the Water Festival. Except that might not have been room for all of you in the kiddie plastic wading pool we had - but almost. Many of the children at Mercy Centre went home for the holiday; to visit their grannies, aunties and cousins. For the ones who do not have a home, we had a great celebration right here in Klong Toey. No – not like ‘up town’ with big and dangerous water pistols and all that fancy stuff. Our kids decided to use only stuff which they knew that If they sprayed the statue of the Buddha, he wouldn’t be upset. Not these water cannons.
We fill our plastic kiddie pool with water and this year no one was safe from a splash of water or ten – it must be the coolest celebration in the shanty slums – our kids are allowed to swim and play ALL week!!
And we actually had a contest - who could splash water the best?
So lots of splashing and noise. And question: do you want to know perhaps the most beautiful musical sound on the planet? Of course you want. And the answer is simply 33 five & six & seven year old girls playing and splashing water. And after that another 30 of Mercy’s five & six year old boys splashing and singing and shouting, but more shouting that singing.
We decided to play and then pray. Maybe it should have been the other way around, but play we did and pray we did. I don’t think the Good Lord cares which comes first.
Songkran is the tradition and celebration of pouring lustral water on Buddha images and water on the hands of the elderly. We believe this is a blessing and good fortune for the year to come. Also to wash away last year’s sins. At the same time we ask forgiveness and show our respect for the elderly and in return they will gift us good wishes for the year to come. The festival also welcomes the much needed rainy season for our crops and land.
We all dressed up in colorful, flower shirts with some teenagers in Klong Toey who colored their hair for the festival; red, green, pink and blue – everything and everyone is festive and vibrant. Children, young and old, run around, having a happy water fight all day and all night people were dancing and music played for 3 days straight. Lots of folks, young and old, made merit at the local temple and mark their love and care by applying scented powder on each other’s cheeks. Also, everyone – almost everyone went home. Over two million peoples left Bangkok to travel home to the Provinces to visit their family; trains, buses, cars and planes are full – tired but smiling folks traveling to their home villages where they were born and their parents live.
On behalf of the foundation, the children and neighbors in the shanty slums of Klong Toey we hope you had a Happy Thai New Year – wherever you are in the world.