The Photo Story: Songkran, Thailand

Photographer: HIMANSHU PANDYA

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PHOTOGRAPHS: HIMANSHU PANDYA

If, clueless and unprepared, you happen to land up in Bangkok in the second week of April, you’ll find yourself in the middle of an action-packed battle zone. Songkran is the celebration that annually marks the Thai New Year. Traditionally, locals gently poured water on family and friends to bestow good fortune, but, in recent years, it has evolved into a fiesta of splashing strangers on the streets with ice-cold water, which, admittedly, offers some relief from the heat of the Thai summer.

One of the most popular places to be in Bangkok for Songkran is the backpacker district of Khao San Road, which is transformed into streets full of people armed with water guns and buckets of bone-chilling water. An otherwise five-minute walk down the street turns into an hour’s jostle past thousands of soaked people. Live music, DJs and dancing on the street turns the area into a three-day-long wet-and-wild party.

Don’t stress if loud music and dance is not your thing: head over to Ayutthaya, the ancient capital and World Heritage city, for the more traditional celebrations. Here, elephants also join in, spraying the crowds with their trunks as people ride through the streets in open pickup trucks, armed with water-filled guns, buckets and barrels.

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Photographer: HIMANSHU PANDYA
Photographer: HIMANSHU PANDYA