April is the festive time of the year in Southeast Asia, as in most parts of the region people celebrate the Buddhist New Year. This week is Songkran Festival – as the New Year Celebration is called in Thailand. Known as Pi Mai Festival to the Laotians, Thingyan to the Burmese and Chol Chnam Thmey to the Cambodians.
Here in Thailand everyone gets excited about Songkran, which is celebrated by the throwing of water and mentholated talc and usually results in a massive fun water splash on the streets. But it is not just all about fun. Origins of this celebration are assumed to trace back to an Indian festival, however, Songkran has been celebrated for centuries. In Buddhist tradition Songkran is the time of the year to visit friends and relatives and pay respect to family members and elderly people.
As with New Year festivities according to the Gregorian calendar, Songkran, at least for some, means to take some time to reflect about the year that passed and make resolutions for the one to come.It is a time for spiritual cleaning and renewal – the ultimate time “to do good”. For many Thais this includes a visit to the temples, washing of Buddha statues, ask for blessing by the monks and make donations to the temple.
Here in Asia the concept of giving back is closely related to Buddhism. It is thought of as a selfless act, where one shares with those in need, without expecting anything in return – a gesture of true generosity. The idea of giving back has also been one of our key motives to set up the foundation. Working and living in Southeast Asia we felt responsible to take an active part in the improvement of social and environmental grievances.
We too take Songkran as an occasion to make our very own new year’s resolution, looking back on what we have achieved this year, but, most importantly, outlining what we aim for in the year to come. Top priority is of course to increase the support for our charitable projects. Further, we are looking for new initiatives to add and in fact, have already agreed to support another organization in Southeast Asia working on providing scholarships for disadvantaged kids. More details on this project will follow in one of the next blogs.
So before wishing everyone a Happy Songkran, we would like to thanks to all those who have supported our efforts so far and want to express how pleased we are to work together with such inspiring charity projects.
Sawadee Pi Mai – Happy Songkran to all of you!