Letter from Burma 11
March 18, 1935
More information for your project: Another place where Pagodas are important is the Three Pagodas Pass on the border between Burma and Siam, not far from here.
The pass is named after three small, crumbling stupas or chedis which were probably built as a symbol of peace.
Three Pagodas Pass becomes very important once a year at the Songkran Festival. There are cock fights, Siam-Burma kickboxing contests and various types of folk dancing.
It starts April 13 and lasts between three and ten days, depending on where you are in
Siam. The word Songkran is from the Sanskrit meaning the beginning of a new Solar Year. The Siamese people celebrate this festival with water. Everyone gets soaking wet and since it is the hottest season of the year, the custom is quite refreshing. Songkran is a Public Spring Cleaning Day, supported by the religious belief that anything old and useless must be thrown away or it will bring bad luck to the owner.
During the afternoon of the 13th, Buddha images are bathed as part of the ceremony. Young people pour scented water into the hands of elders and parents as a mark of respect while seeking the blessing of the older people. In ancient days, old people were actually given a bath and clothed in new apparel presented by the young folks as a token of respect for the New Year.
This is a perfect time for a festival. The rice harvest is in, and replanting has to await the coming of the rains. It is an old belief that the Nagas or mythical serpents brought on rain by spouting water from the seas. The more they spouted, the more rain there would be. So, one might believe that the Songkran customs of throwing water is actually a rain-making idea.
Much love from Mummy and Daddy