Thailand’s Songkran festival has begun as the country mourns the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Thailand is in a year of mourning for widely revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej who died in October aged 88. Many entertainment events since his death have been scaled back or cancelled as a sign of respect.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn, the late king's son, is the new monarch.
The government has warned revellers not to wear skimpy clothing and to limit their alcohol intake, among other pronouncements.
Road fatalities usually soar during the national holiday with drink-driving being one of the top causes.
The festival is one of Thailand’s biggest tourists attractions
“I want everyone to help reduce accidents and have a little common sense. The selling of alcohol near festivals has caused chaos and the meaning of Songkran has been twisted,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters yesterday.
The selling of alcohol near festivals has caused chaos
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha
“We have to do our part in preserving our culture and traditions,” he added.
Since taking power in a 2014 coup, Prayuth's military government has tried to restore what it sees as traditional Thai values, saying some Thai traditions have been corrupted by outside, Western influences.
But the warnings are unlikely to put a dampener on Thailand's most important holiday and one of its biggest tourist attractions – a time when Thais and tourists alike take part in boisterous street water fights armed with water pistols and buckets.
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The Songkran water festival in Thailand
Mon, April 11, 2016
Celebrations begin ahead of the beautiful Songkran water festival in Thailand
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People are sprayed with water thrown by elephants
People were warned not to wear skimpy clothing or drink too much alcohol by the government
Songkran, which has been called the “world's biggest water fight”, is also a time when Thais pay their respects to their elders by pouring water through their hands – a gesture meant to symbolise purification ahead of the new year.
The tourism authority said it expects the number of international tourists celebrating Songkran to rise 10 percent from the previous year to reach 470,000 visitors.