KNAPHILL’S Buddhist temple glistened in glorious sunshine on Sunday as guests gathered from near and far in traditional, colourful costumes to kick-off the Thai New Year.
Joining them in the Songkran and Family Day Festival was special guest Woking Mayor Anne Roberts. Songkran originated from Burma and, also known as the Water Festival, is usually celebrated over three days. This year’s in the UK ran from Sunday to Tuesday.
Councillor Roberts said: “As a former travel consultant, I have been to Thailand many times but never in Songkran, so for myself and my guest, Jean Smith, it was very special indeed.”
In her speech, Cllr Roberts wished everyone at the temple happiness for the coming year – expressing that it is a time for new beginnings.
Water features heavily in Songkran and a main focus is the recognition of seniors, when the young pour water over their hands in thanks and, in turn, the elderly give the youngsters a blessing.
In Knaphill, there were decorative fountains with crystal Buddhas to pour water over.
While carrying out the tradition of offering gifts to resident monks, seniors and distinguished guests received water from the congregation, wishing them good health, and longevity. The ceremonies were followed by a wonderful spread of Thai food for lunch.
Traditionally, on the eve of the festival, Thai wives clean their house and all Buddha images, and remove all rubbish, otherwise it might bring them bad luck. Songkran focuses on spiritual intentions like giving alms to monks.
The basic philosophy of Buddhism is meditation and compassion for those who suffer.
The approach, practised in Knaphill, Dhammakaya Buddhism, was founded in Thailand by Phra Mongkhonthepmuni in 1917, who taught the virtues of patience, respect and discipline.
Cllr Roberts concluded: “It was a lovely, enjoyable and happy day.”