Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Songkran in Panels

Hey all, painted these panels about the beautiful Songkran festival of Thailand. They illustrate day 0 till the last day of songkran.

Taken from the collateral I did for this mini exhibition:

"...Songkran being one of the most celebrated and sacred events in Thailand is much raved about throughout the world. The energy, spirit and vibrancy, can never be compared to by any other countries.

Water, being one of the most iis too often taken for granted by most. Knowledge of the symbolisms behind the Thai waters is slowly diminishing as the new generations take over. Hence, I'd like to take this opportunity to bring these symbolisms back to life once more throught he five panels of paintings...."


Cleansing of the house and inner self is done a day before the Songkran festival. This is done to ward off all evil spirits. Water here is seen as sacred, blessing the house and the people. This is also an action to wash off all bad elements that were accumulated throughout the past year.

The black background signifies the bad elements present before the washing, while the coloured splashes above represent the colours of the different element use to clean the house, such as flower petals, water, etc. A Thai monk lookalike represents the cleansing of one's mind off all evil thoughts while the falling waters waist down from the monk's body signifies the impurity leaving the body with the water flow.

Blessing the Buddha

On the first day of the Songkran festival, Thais visit the temples to bless and bathe the Buddha. They believe that by doing so, they can show their gratitude towards the Buddha's blessing on them throughout the past year and also get blessed by the Buddha for bathing him. Water here is seen as a form of bridge, connecting Man and god.

The white background signifies the fresh new start of the new year after cleansing oneself from the day before. In this picture, you see a man throwing colour splashes towards the buddha figure that is situated on the top right hand corner of the panel. This represents "blessing the buddha", and in turn gets blessed by the buddha. If you look closely, there are water splashes on the man's body as well. This signifies the pardon of one's sin from the buddha after he's made his respects.

Family Ties

After being blessed in the temples, Thais return home to prepare for the Rod Nam Dam Hua. This is a ritual involving the younger generations to pour scented water unto the palms of the older generation. This act signifies utmost respect and gratitude towards the older generations. In turn, the older generation blesses the younger ones back. Water here is seen also as a form of a bridge, connecting the different generations as one.

The girl above is the daughter while the one below who looks quite like the girl above is the mother. This shows the connection between the 2 generations through water and the union of the family. Colours of the splashes once again signifies the elements used for this ritual. Red signifies blood ties.


After the family blessings, Thais go out on the streets to pour water unto others. The wetter they get, the better. Water is seen as a form of blessing and prosperity from the naga (holy water snake). Water also simulates the rain. The "heavier the rain, the better the harvest of the crops. Agriculture plays a large role in the livelihoods of the Thais. Rain (water), therefore, plays an important role to ensure the growth of the crops.

The background in the panel seem to be tainted with a hint of other colours like yellow and blue. This symbolises the blessings of others. The different splashes of red and purple paint signifies the increase in fertility within Thailand, as red simulates new and fresh blood while purple symbolises Thailand.


As the Songkran festival comes to an end, the Thais start a brand new year afresh, discarding all the bad that happened during the year before. The phoenix rising from all the turbulence of fire and trials represents the rebirth of a new year, a renewal of faith in life.

The last symbolism is hidden within the five panels. Each of these paintings are linked to the next. And this last symbolism is unity. Water in the Songkran context unifies the different generations within a family and affirms the family as one. It also ties the Thai community closer as they go on the streets to shower their blessing upon others. Songkran is a beautiful start of a new year in Thailand. Songkran is also the rebirth of an identity for the Thais. Water, being the key element of the festival plays an important role. It helps strengthen the hopes, beliefs and the faiths of the Thai community in their lives. Water has also evolved to be more than just a necessity in life. Water has a deeper meaning than just to keep one's survival.

This is Songkran, redefined in pictures. This is Songkran, redefined, by the symbolisms of the Thai waters.


Here's the collateral - an event broucher/booklet, welcome pack and advertising pamphlet.
Didn't include the poster as I've kept it somewhere after the show. So enjoy!