Thai New Year officially began on Monday of this past week, kicking off several days of hijinks, waterlogged afternoons and clay-smeared evenings. After last Saturday's deadly protests here in Bangkok, I was curious to see how the notoriously wild festivities would unfold, but made the mistake of approaching the situation with a culturally dissonant, Western point-of-view.
Given that it was sandwiched between a calamitous army crackdown and the red shirts' promise to occupy Bangkok's commercial area until Parliament was dissolved, I thought that perhaps the traditionally raucous celebrations of Songkran would be muted.
Have I ever looked so happy in a photo? I don't believe I have. Photo from Gary Arndt's Songkran 2010 album.
Well, I was wrong.
Yes, over 20 people were killed during last weekend's army crackdown, but as one of my Thai friends said "in Thailand, there are worse things than death." As a result, the attitude toward Songkran was the same, if not more concentrated: respects were paid to those who had died, makeshift shrines were set up adjacent to one of the main festival areas for Songkran, and the celebrations kicked off, despite a statement from the city to the contrary.
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