M’s First Songkran ~ Thingyan in Chiang Mai: The Assembly

M has been talking about practicing the Songkran dance for school at Assembly for weeks.  Her Thai teachers were coordinating the festivities. It’s been exciting.

Are you still learning Thai in class?, I asked.  M’s answer “NO, we’re learning the Songkran dance, Mommy!”  Fair enough I say.  Apparently, many students and teachers were participating in some way during the celebrations.  It was exciting to hear about it from M.  It’s even more exciting to me that we’re spending our first Buddhist New Year together here in Chiang Mai, Thailand.   The Songkran festival in M’s International school at Assembly is all part of the experience.  A few weeks ago, we  received a letter in the mail from the school that we must pay-up some cash in order that the school could make sure M has a costume on the day of Assembly.  Costume?  We’re talking serious performances!  Right!

The assembly was on the last day of class in April (Songkran holiday is like three weeks here)!  And faintly, I remember I used to get excited as a child during April as well.  I would celebrate a birthday in April and then it was time for the water festival or Thingyan!  🙂

Practice she did, at home while humming the song, often.   It’s been adorable to watch.  Weeks pass, and finally, M brought home her tiny costume for the dance.  I couldn’t  help but realize my girl is growing-up right in front of my very eyes.

The night before the Assembly showing off her costume!

The beauty of participating in cultural activities like this one and Yee Peng is that it is exactly what I envisioned we’d experience as a family when we decided to move to Thailand.   Songkran, or Thingyan, which is the Burmese version of Buddhist New Year, is not just about the water festival, but it is about paying respect to elders and “washing-away” sins from the previous year, and bringing in a new  year with various traditional Buddhist ceremonies–including a variety of entertainment, food and fun for all ages.  And yes, I know this sounds selfish, but I’d say it again– My birthday wish has come true!

In honor of our first Thingyan (Songkran), I hope this post helps to preserve the memories of this experience, so that one day M can look back and appreciate it, I hope!   Here is a quick photo journey:

Songkran Student Parade
Student masters of ceremony - in English and Thai
Opening performance
Respecting our elders
The littlest ones
More little ones
One of many beautiful little people of our future
The energy was incredible
Year 3's turn- M included!
Performance of traditional instruments by students
Performances were all fun and festive
The fragrance of SE Asia: Jasmine flower necklaces
M's class (love the flowery shirts for the boys)
Soak it all in M, my precious beautiful flower!

The entire experience at the assembly – from the colors of the beautiful costumes, the talented dancers who wore them, the beautiful music and instruments, to the smell of the stringed jasmine buds that gently wrapped around my neck – reassured me once again that the experiences and the memories are the reward for staying true to our dream:  Living in Chiang Mai.

Looking forward to celebrating Songkran (Thingyan) here in Chiang Mai.

Sawatdee Peee Mai!

(Note:  We have a video of M and her class performing, but having difficulties uploading the video today.  Will try again soon and update here!

Note #2:  Though Thingyan has a Hindu origin (Buddha was born Hindu), I grew up with this traditional new year celebrated by Buddhists like myself throughout the entire country! Thus I refer to it as Buddhist New Year!  It’s all interconnected eh?)

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