Date: 22-24 April 2016
Venue: Phra Pradaeng, Samut Prakan
Phra Pradaeng in Samut Prakan Province is one of the few places in Thailand that celebrates the Songkran Festival in the Thai-Mon style, featuring a magnificent parade. Visitors can learn how to play saba, enjoy a Mon folk play, plus many other forms of entertainment, and see a procession of swan and centipede flags.
The Phra Pradaeng Songkran Festival differs from others in that it is held a little later than in most other locales. The Songkran rituals and celebrations here are usually held on the Sunday that follows after Songkran Day on 13 April. This year, the festival is 22-24 April 2016.
Ancient traditions are still being observed and is a source of pride passed on to future generations.
THAI-RAMAN FLAG CEREMONY
Each village makes its own centipede flag, which is carried in a ceremonial flag procession along the road to be draped on the swan pillars at various temples. The flag, the symbol of the Thai-Raman people, is of Buddhist significance and incorporates the spirit of unity.
A demonstration of traditional Raman games such as saba, a pitch and toss game played with beans. Various indigenous games of Thai-Raman origin being staged in designated villages from 08.30 to midnight during the festival period.
In bon saba, a traditional Raman games, young Raman lads and lasses engage in a lively dialogue, accompanied by song and dance. This is a quaint custom, which is now rarely witnessed.
ORIGINS OF THE PHRA PRADAENG SONGKRAN FESTIVAL
The Phra Pradaeng Songkran Festival, formerly known as the ‘Pak Lat Songkran Festival’, was similar to Songkran celebrated in the other regions of the country, with the notable addition of a colourful and elaborate Songkran procession staged by the Mon, or Raman, residents of Phra Pradaeng.
The highlight of the festival is a grand procession of floral floats carrying beautiful maidens dressed in a traditional Mon, or Raman, costume. Each holds a fish bowl in one hand and a bird cage in the other. Other maidens, accompanied by men dressed in traditional Raman costume of sarong and round-necked shirt and sash (the costume is called “choot loy chai”), walk in front of the ‘Songkran beauty queen’. The fish and birds are released as an act of merit to ward off bad luck and bring prosperity.
Each year the Phra Pradaeng Songkran parade features between 10 to 20 processions. Each procession is made up of a Songkran vehicle decorated with beautiful flowers. The vehicle of the lead procession transports the incumbent Miss Songkran surrounded by her entourage. She is seated and holds a replica of the severed head of the Lord Tao Maha Songkran. The procession also includes a file of graceful girls dressed in traditional Thai-Raman costumes. Some of them hold a fishbowl; others hold a birdcage and the remainder walk ahead of the Songkran vehicle. They in turn are flanked by Raman youths dressed in Choot Loy Chai costumes, consisting of a sarong, round-necked shirt and scarf which is worn with the tails dangling behind. The men’s job is to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
Maha Songkran Procession
Most of the processions seen during the Songkran festival are cultural processions. However, the procession of the Tao Maha Songkran “head” is a unique aspect of the Songkran celebrations in the Phra Padaeng district of Bangkok.
The Tao Maha Songkran procession depicts the Tao Kabillabrama (pronounced Kabillaprom) Dhamma Kumar (Dhammabankumarn) folk legend.
According to legend, there was once a kind and benevolent diety who lived on Mount Krailaad and cared greatly for mankind. His name is Tao Kabillabrama (King Kabillabrama) or Tao Maha Songkran. He has seven daughters, each a goddess representing a day of the week. They are known collectively as Nang Songkran (Miss Songkran).
One day, Tao Kabillabrama heard about the exceptional talent of Thammabankumarn, a millionaire’s son and challenged him to a contest in which Thammabankumarn had to correctly answer three questions or be beheaded if he failed to do so. On the other hand, if Thammabankumarn successfully answered all three questions, Tao Kabillabrama agreed to cut off his own head. Thammabankumarn was able to answer all three questions so Tao Kabillabrama had to keep his promise.
However, Tao Kabillabrama’s head must not come into contact with the ground, air or water or natural disasters would occur. To maintain peace on earth, before he died, Tao Kabillabrama asked his seven daughters to take turns holding his head, each for a period of one year. Tao Kabillabrama’s head was placed on a Wanfah pedestal and taken back to a cave in Mount Krailad . Every year, one of the daughters would bring the head down to the town for a procession.
Hence during the Songkran procession, the winner of the annual Nang Songkran/Miss Songkran beauty pageant is seen holding the head of Tao Maha Songkran.
Tourism Authority of Thailand, Bangkok Office
Tel: +66 (0) 2250 5500
Fax: +66 (0) 2250 5511
Phra Pradaeng Municipality
Tel: +66 (0) 2463 4841 ext. 129-130
Latitude: 13.667578 (13Â° 40′ 3.28” N)
Longitude: 100.528904 (100Â° 31′ 44.05” E)