Thai new year's festival opens April 11 at MU

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 | 7:17 p.m. CDT; updated 7:51 p.m. CDT, Thursday, April 11, 2013

COLUMBIA — MU will celebrate the Thai new year next week with food, music and — if all goes according to plan — a water fight.

The Thai Student Association expects more than a 1,000 people to attend the festival.

The MU Thai Student Association will have its eighth annual Songkran festival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 11 at the Mel Carnahan Quadrangle. Songkran is the traditional Thai celebration of the new year and the most important holiday on the Thai calendar.

The celebration in Thailand is a three-day national holiday. It's a time for religious celebrations, family gatherings and partying with friends. Its length and religious nature make it most similar to the Christmas holiday.

"I would say it's the most important holiday in Thailand," said Ploisongsaeng Intaratip, president of the Thai Student Association.

Part of the traditional Thai news year's festivities is to throw water on people.  April is during the summer in Thailand, so throwing water on each other is a way to cool off and celebrate the new year.

"We throw water at each other like crazy," Intaratip said. "We're all gonna get wet."

The biggest problem that may arise is weather. In the event of rain, the festival will have to be held indoors in Stotler Lounge, and the water fight might be canceled.

Anne Deaton will make opening remarks at 11 a.m. and will then join other MU administrators and senior members of the Thai community in having water thrown on their hands by Thai students as a sign of respect and blessing.

Starting at 11:30 a.m., food will be served from Thip Thai Cuisine on a first-come, first-served basis, while audience members can enjoy traditional Thai song and dance performances. At 3 p.m., after the rest of the activities are over and while everyone cleans up, the traditional water throwing will begin.

Admission is free and the public is invited to take part in the festivities.

Supervising editor is Zach Murdock.

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