The people of Thailand have been celebrating the Thai Water Festival - called Songkran -- which marks the start of the rain season in the country.
The people of Thailand have been celebrating the Thai Water Festival - called Songkran -- which marks the start of the rain season in the country. It is a time when throwing water over each other is more than an enjoyable game. It is a significant part of a religious ceremony.
Songkran festival, lasting three days, includes a procession with floats. A beauty queen chosen especially for the event, has the place of honour on her gaily-decorated throne.
During the festival, alms are given to monks. Birds and fish are released in the belief that by doing so, the people will help cleanse themselves of sins.
In the country areas, residents present each other -- and very often visitors -- with gifts of food.
Water is also poured on Buddhist images while the elders bless the pourers and wish them a happy, prosperous life during the following year.
The rain season in Thailand starts soon after the time of the Trut, or New Year -- in March or April -- and lasts until October.