The Buddhist countries of Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand are about to celebrate the three-day Khmer New Year or Songkran from April 14 to 16. In Chiang Mai, the government allowed its people to celebrate early to fight air pollution.
Songkran is celebrated in different ways in various countries. In Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos, people enjoy the festivity with water fights. Although other nations in Southeast Asia celebrate the festivity at the same time, they observe the special event in a different manner, per The South China Morning Post.
When Cambodians celebrate Songkran, you can hear them scream "Sousaday chhnam thmei" on the streets that mean "Happy New Year." There will be a pilgrimage in their home provinces to start in the new year with their families.
There are also Songkran traditions like giving offering at pagodas, giving respect to the dead, and cleansing bathing ceremonies for the coming year. Others also celebrate in style with loud music blasting from speakers, feasting, and devouring crates of Angkor and Cambodian beer.
The three-day celebration also includes new year games like "tres," which players have to catch a ball in one hand and take a stick in the other. The other game is "chab kon kl eng," which the player has to pretend to be a hen that has to protect her chicks from a crow that tries to get it.
Meanwhile, according to Khaosod English, Songkran comes early in Chiang Mai as its government lets its people start the water fights to fight air pollution. Everyone, including the tourists, can splash water guns starting on April 3 until April 15.
"The event is lacking press coverage. Some people may not know about this early Songkran," government spokesman Col. Wanthai Lorlen recently told the media, asking them to spread the word. "Please pass this information to everyone you know."
The government is hoping the water fight will help ease the level of PM2.5 dust particles in the region. Before Songkran takes place, the authorities have been spraying water at building rooftops and roads to reduce the toxic particles.
Pollution in Chiang Mai has reached "hazardous level" in recent weeks. Residents are now complaining about the dust particles and blaming the government for lacking action.
Col. Wanthai called the government's move as "Amazing PM4.0 Thailand." It is part of Pracharath initiatives that encourage people to take their own action to fight the problem instead of just waiting for the central government's help.