The 13th of April is the Thai lunar New Year. On that day my mother got up at 4:30 a.m. and called the whole household to get up and help her to prepare special nut cakes to offer to the monks and our friends and neighbours for the New Year. These delicious cakes were not made at any other time of the year. Other special foods were also made as a preparation for the New Year celebration.
On the first day of the New Year, everyone got up early. Some people offered food to the monks who were on their alms rounds. Others took food to the temple or to the parks where monks gathered and stood in long rows, waiting to receive food. The temple attendants came along behind the monks with containers to take food back to the monasteries – a sort of ‘doggie bag’ for monks.
Later on, people went to the temple to attend the festival. They participated in the procession of a statue of the Buddha. The image was sprinkled with perfume and covered in flowers. People splashed water on one another. They also visited their elders and bathed them with soap and water as a sign of respect and gratitude. The water symbolized purification and blessing. On this day, the nut cake was eaten, often with bananas.