Songkran and Cleansing the Heart
I hope you are ready to start the new year with a splash…at least the Thai New Year anyway. This week Thailand will be celebrating the Songkran (Water) Festival, celebrating the new year.
“The most famous aspect of the Songkran celebrations is the throwing of water. The custom originates from spring cleaning aspect of Songkran. Part of the ritual was the cleaning of images of Buddha. Using the ‘blessed’ water that cleaned the images to soak other people is seen as a way of paying respect and bring good fortune. It also doesn’t hurt that April is the hottest part of the year in Thailand, so being soaked is a refreshing escape from the heat and humidity. Thais will walk the streets having ‘water fights’ using containers of water or water guns, or stand at the side of roads with a hose and soak anyone who passes by.”1
If one were to venture about during the festivities, they would likely also enjoy the refreshing experience of being soaked with ice water, where some of the water splashers have taken a “chilled” approach to liven things up.
Though Songkran is a time where so many reserved, shy, and passive Thais outwardly express their excitement and joy, it is impossible miss the reflection of Buddhism on the culture of Thailand. Buddhism has saturated the Thai culture so much that it is almost impossible to separate any Thai holiday or festival from the Buddhist religion. During this week many Thais, young and old, will visit a temple nearby seeking blessings from the monks and hoping to gain good karma.
This week is a time of celebration for many people, but it is sobering to think that while many are cleaning their images, the true need is for their hearts to be cleansed. The Apostle Paul, who is probably the most recognizable and greatest cross-cultural missionary, stated: “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (I Corinthians 4:1-2)
The mystery Paul is referencing is that of the Gospel. As believers we are stewards of the Gospel, and we need to be found faithful in how we handle our knowledge of it. Songkran is a time to clean the images, but they are just that…images, they do not respond to people’s prayers, nor do they hear the prayers that are uttered to them on a daily basis. Knowing that we have been given a gift, from the living God, should fill us with urgency to faithfully share His Word, wherever we are. It is only through accepting Jesus Christ that we are able to be cleansed of our sin.
So, the next time you participate in a water fight or wash your car, pray for the Thai people and that the Gospel may abound in their land.
What are some holidays where you are that reflect the lostness of the people, and what are some ways you could use the holiday as an opportunity to share Christ?