Firstly, what is Songkran? From my shallow understanding, it's considered the new year (just like what Lunar New Year means to us) for people in Thailand, Mynamar, Cambodia, Laos and some minority tribes in China. Traditionally, during this festival, people visit temples and cleanse Buddha images with water in order to bring good luck for the new year. This gradually transformed into a crazy festival with everyone hurling water at everyone else to celebrate the new year. Tourists from every corner of the globe flock to different parts of Thailand during this event to experience it. In Mandarin, Songkran is called "泼水节", which translates literally as "Splashing Water Festival". Suffice to say, no matter whether you are cleansing your Buddha images or throwing water at everyone you see, the spirit of Songkran revolves around 1 element, yes, you guessed it, water.
This controversy first caught my eye when I read an article which talked about some officials in Thailand's Culture Ministry threatening to sue Singapore over the organisation of their very own festival. My first thought was, "Why the big deal? Even though it might purely be a marketing event, at least it helps to showcase Thai culture, especially the Songkran culture to more people, surely that can't be a bad thing."
Besides, if anyone wants to REALLY experience what Songkran is really about, they will DEFINITELY choose to come to Thailand, no matter what Singapore can offer, so it's not really a threat to tourism as well. A couple of nights ago, I mentioned to my wife that it would be almost impossible for Singapore to close a couple streets to allow "water-fights" to take place for 2 whole days. Before I knew it, the bombshell was announced, Singapore's Songkran is to take place, dry.
This morning, I finally visited Singapore Songkran's official website. To my astonishment, this was the very first picture that greeted me.
|Is this going to happen? NO|
I also found out that it is going to involve a lot of Thai food, Thai products, Muay Thai and a plethora of gigs involving a few entertainers from Thailand.
If you ask me, attending a Songkran event without water is like going to Singaporean chicken rice stall to order chicken rice, and end up getting char kway teow instead. No matter how Singaporean the char kway teow tastes, I want my bloody chicken rice, complete with chicken, rice and chilli sauce, not lacking in ANY element.
If I can give my 2 cents worth to the organising committee, I feel that all backdrops and information regarding water pistol fights on the website need to be removed immediately in case more paying attendees (as not all events are free) are misled, and that the name of the festival needs to be carefully reconsidered, at least for future versions of the same event.
No water, no Songkran. Period.