Sunday, 14 April 2013

A Wetter Songkran!


Sundays with Chef Peter….


Cartoon Kindly borrowed from 2Bangkok.com

Daahlings, for those of you who did happen to MISS me last week, apologies for that but I was just sooo busy! Time seems to be going so very quickly these days (I know I keep in harking on about it) and weeks and months just fly by! My mother (love you) said as you get older this tends to happen, everything starts speeding up to the inevitable end just when we wish it would all slow down and we could actually spend some time and smell the roses!

This week’s post is not going to be about food or me just for a change but about a very special event happening right here in Thailand, Songkran!

So Happy New Year or Sawadee Bi Mai as the Thais would say as Songkran is the Thai New Year! It coincides with the New Year of many calendars in South and Southeast Asia so a Happy New Year to anyone else who happens to be celebrating this weekend. Interestingly up until 1940 the 1st of April was the official New Year here in Thailand but then they decided to join the rest of the world and make it January 1st , bit of shame really as I do like to be different!

Songkran has been traditionally celebrated as the New Year for many centuries, and is believed to have been adapted from an Indian festival. It is now observed nationwide, even in the far south. However the famous Songkran celebrations are still in the Northern city of Chiang Mai where it continues for days, I have never been but apparently it is quite a party but be warned, unless you want to spend part or most of that time being absolutely drenched and powdered with din sor pong (clay powder), I would head for hills (the Regent and Oriental are highly recommended!).

Songkran falls in the hottest time of the year in Thailand and I guess at one point in history, someone decided it would be a good idea to throw water at each other to cool down. Of course as with all good things it has been blown completely out of proportion and is now more like water wars with water cannons and very large iced filled water buckets armed by both the locals and the farangs heading your way!

Pattaya, Chiang Mai and many parts of Bangkok are particularly popular and renowned for “having a WET and WILD time” for Songkran and is well frequented by tourists who have come on their well earned holidays specially to get soaking wet for a few days!

I must admit that during my years in Thailand I have also enjoyed many a drink fueled Songkran and a few memorable ones in Tapas, Soi 4, Bangkok spring to mind! Of course I don’t want to say I am getting old and boring but I guess it’s just a matter of been there and done that!

My self and the Chanchumrats

This year however I was invited by my darling Toon to go to his home town near Nakorn Sri Thamarat to celebrate with his family and see how they celebrate in the country side of Thailand (always an eye opener!).

So off I set yesterday morning the first day of Songkran at 5am for the 4 hour drive to Nakorn and was doing really well till Krabi when the gods decided they also wanted to celebrate Songkran as well and let the heavens open and pelt it down!

Eventually I arrived and gulped back a couple of 100 pipers (the country side’s favourite tipple) to clam my nerves and settle into Songkran, the Chancumrat way. This year the Chancumrat family decided to have an extra special Songkran and invited all the old folks for a special blessing from all the youngsters. The eldest being his grandmother who is 92 and still holding her own and all there, quite amazing!

92 year old Grandmother blessing a young boy

It is also traditional to Songkran for families to do such blessings and I was honoured to be present and be part of this special time.

Youngsters give their blessing

The blessing
The youngsters will normally bath the hands and feet of the elders and wish then them well and apologize for any foolish behavior in the past year (J). The elders in return bless the youngsters for next year. It is then followed by lots of home cooking and merriment with some water throwing but not a full on war!

Paying respect with water

I think it is lovely to still find this sort of extended family in the world who simply get together to enjoy special times with the best things in life which come for free!

Young Banana Tree (makes an excellent salad)

An interesting way to grate coconut

The feast is prepared

Happy Songkran everyone and if you do happen to be in the thick of it, have fun but be safe please as there are far too many fatalities here in Thailand during this time!

See you next week!

Chef Peter

2 comments:

  1. I just find your blessing picture amazing.

    Greetings,
    Filip

    ReplyDelete
  2. interesting! thks for sharing the experience and photos...

    ReplyDelete