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Penangites Celebrates Songkran At Thai Temple

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THINGS got a lot wetter than usual at the annual splash-all-you-can Water Festival at the Reclining Buddha Temple in Penang, probably due to the hot weather.

At one point during the water fight, a three-tonne lorry drove into the temple grounds bearing a 1,000-litre tank of water and 10 men armed with water guns and pails.

Then someone hauled in a large pail of iced water, which was welcomed ammunition for all the fighters carrying water guns.

But for those who could not make it yesterday since it was a weekday, the temple has another round of wet fun in store for this weekend.

Temple advisor Datuk Dr Proom Promwichit said the water tanks would be filled up again this Saturday and Sunday.

“We will have the water tanks prepared again for those who could not make it because they were working,” he said.

He said this year, the temple had only prepared two tanks of water containing about 1,000 litres each.

“With the current dry spell in Penang, we don’t want to waste water and we will also switch off the water supply after a while,” he said adding that the temple would also pray for rain.

More than a hundred revellers splashed and sprayed each other at the festival which marked the new year for the Thai community.

Comprising locals, Thai and Myanmar nationals, the merrymakers were armed with water guns, pails and bottles of water as they engaged in an aqueous war.

Being the highlight of the festival, the splashing ritual is believed to bring good luck and ward off evil.

It also symbolises the washing away of sins from the previous year.

Thai tourist Siriporn Wongsuwan, 31, was mesmerised by the sight of her homeland’s festival celebrated here.

“I wanted to greet the new year in a different country this time and when I came to Penang, I heard about this temple and the celebrations.

“The temple is as beautiful as the ones back home and it is nice to see people of different cultures celebrating it,” she said.

Eric Lee from Johor Baru who was soaking wet after the water battle with his friends, said he before this, he was not aware that the festival was celebrated in Penang.

“I know it is widely celebrated in Thailand but never knew it was a big deal here too,” said the 28-year-old who runs an old folks home in Johor Baru.

Backpackers from The Netherlands Anne Van Berkael, 31, and Salomy Boera, 35, said they were glad they decided to visit the temple after hearing about the festival in the morning.

“I have never been to Thailand but now I am keen to visit the country.

“We have fireworks during our new year and they have water,” said Boera, a graphic designer.

Acting Thai consul-general Sukoom Somprasonk had earlier joined devotees for a prayer session with monks at the Thai temple.

Devotees were also seen making a beeline for a decorated section set aside for visitors to bathe the Buddha and monk statues with scented floral water as a mark of homage.

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