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Happy New Year! … Again

Posted by danneker on April 3rd, 2011 | Leave a comment

It is summer time in Thailand.  The children have been out of school since mid-March.   The weather is hot and humid.  And the Thai people are looking forward to celebrating New Years for the third time this calendar year.  After celebrating “international” New Years on January first; and Chinese New Year a month after that, the Thai people have their own special Thai New Year celebrated from April 13-15. The three days are a national holiday.  Often the factories will close for at least a week to allow their workers to return to visit their families in the provinces.  We love it, because it seems like half of Bangkok’s ten million residents leave.  Suddenly, we can drive around the city without all the traffic jams.  But surprises await us if we dare drive around!  We are suddenly in a city-wide water battle!

Traditions abound for this popular holiday.  Most of the traditions center around water.  Thailand has been in their “dry” season since November with little or no rain.    The land is often parched by now.   The weather is unbearably hot and everyone awaits the rainy season to begin in May, so the rice can be planted and there is some relief to the heat.  Often the holiday begins by blessing your elders.  The younger members of the families pour water on their elders’ hands and say a blessing for them.  The elder will then say a blessing over the young person.   Often flower leis are given to the elders.  Other traditions involve religious ceremonies with the household gods or in the Buddhist temple.  Then the play begins.  Groups gather on street corners with large barrels of water and try to get anyone wet who passes in front of them.  Or groups get on the back of a pick-up truck with barrels of water and long distance water guns and “attack” other pick-up trucks.  Beware if you are on a motorcycle.  Sometimes the water is mixed with powder and the road can get slippery. Unfortunately this holiday is a popular time to drink alcohol, so there are tragically many accidents.

The Thai long for physical rain at this season.  Pray that God will open their eyes to their real need for spiritual rain.  John 8:37-38 says, “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If a man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

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