Songkarn Festival (Thai New Year) at Wat Mongkolratanaram-Tampa Photography
Hello Everyone, Today I have some unique and fun photos to share with you that I took yesterday at the Thai New Year Celebration (Songkarn Festival) at the Wat Mongkolratanaram on Palm River Road in Tampa. It is a great place to go any Sunday morning 10-2 for some fantastic Thai food in a beautiful and peaceful environment along the river but a few times a year they hold special celebrations there which are a real treat to attend! Here are a few paragraphs about the festival copied from the Temple’s website which I will link to at the end of this post:
“It is a Thai tradition to give Alms offering to Monks. And in turn, you offer this good deed to relatives who passed away by wishing for them by pouring a small glass of water on a big tree and it is a very good deed and good luck for the beginning of a New Year. This year, as in earlier years there will be a ceremony of sprinkling the Buddha statues and Monks with flower pedals & perfumed water., and, of course, the congregation will also sprinkle perfumed water on each other for good luck and good health and a prosperous New Year. There will be Thai Vegetable and Thai food available.
Officially Thailand celebrates New Years Day on January 1. In ancient times, New Years way the first day of the waning moon of the first lunar month. This means that New Years was celebrated on different days from year to year. In these times, New Years Day occurred in late November. During the reign of King Rama V (1868-1919) New Years day was changed twice; the last time New Years was celebrated in April. When Thailand became a constitutional monarchy New Years Day was officially changed to January 1.
Remember that during the reign of Rama V, New Years was celebrated in April. Typical New Years activities in rural Thailand include exchanging gifts & greetings; water throwing (keep that in mind), building sand pagodas, and honoring elders. In rural Thailand April is a much better time to celebrate. January is too cold for many of these activities. It is also harvest time. April, on the other hand, is much better – the temperature is warmer and farmers are free from harvesting.”
I arrived just as the Monks were about to receive alms. There was a circle of tables surrounding the temple where people were gathered with their gifts and the monks gradually made their way around it. I was not the only photographer there by far-many saw this as a great opportunity for some fantastic photographs. The first thought of course is to photograph the monks and that was what I initially concentrated on, some of my favorite images are shown above. But then upon changing my position I realized that taking some images of those giving the alms would also be very interesting and emotional and I am so glad I realized this!
There was a beautiful float covered with Flowers you can see in the foreground of the Temple photo at the top of this post. One man was assigned to spritzing the flowers with water and he took this seriously as I saw him doing so many times before the parade the float would be featured in started.
There was also entertainment on a stage set up by the river with beautiful singers and dancers.
It was a beautiful day, the only downside was that so many people attended the lines for the wonderful food they serve from a large wrap-around porch were incredibly long! I have never seen it quite that busy before. The celebration also featured a parade with the float I mentioned and water being thrown around, the children especially enjoyed this. Here are a few photos from the parade which went in a circle around the Temple a few times.
I love going to places and events where everyone is happy and this was definitely such an occasion. Nothing but positive friendly people enjoying themselves. The Wat Mongkolratanaram is located at 5306 Palm River Road in Tampa-here is the link to their official site http://www.wattampainenglish.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=featured&Itemid=301. You can find more information on upcoming events and their weekly Sunday Market there.