Songkran, also known as the Thai Water Festival, is a traditional Thai Festival that is also celebrated in Penang, notably along Lorong Burma in Pulau Tikus, where both the Thai Reclining Buddha temple and the Burmese Temple celebrate with gusto. The now almost-destroyed historic hamlet of Kampong Siam (Thai Village) is nearby; this was once the heart of the Thai and Burmese communities of Penang. Both temples are worth visiting at any time, the Thai one for its long reclining Buddha, and the Burmese one for its intricate gilding and lattice work. Normally oases of calm lying between two busy roads, Songkran brings an entirely different atmosphere, one of noise, gaiety and playfulness.
Traditionally, at this New Year celebration, devotees wash away bad luck by splashing water on each other. Over the course of the day, this becomes a riotous attempt to soak everyone in the vicinity. Everyone is in high spirits, and no attacks are malicious, but you will most definitely get wet, so dress appropriately. Bring only waterproof cameras with you, put your phone in a sealed plastic bag, but bring some money to buy a “super soaker” water pistol to join in the fun, and to buy the occasional beer and restorative Thai snack. Soft drinks and fruit are often provided free of charge. As the afternoon draws on and the crowds build up, expect music, stage shows, dancing, and more merriment.
The festivities begin at 9am and continue until at least 6pm, at the Wat Chayamangkalaran Thai Buddhist Temple and Dharmikara Burmese Buddhist Temple (Lorong Burma, Pulau Tikus). Contact 016 – 410 5115 for more information.