On Saturday night of April 14th, visitors in Anchorage were invited to watch and dine for the Songkran Festival at Northwood Elementary School.
Thailand celebrates a traditional annual holiday that has been celebrated for centuries on April 13th through April 15th. The official name of the holiday, Songkran, means Thai New Year, and is a celebration where people from all around Thailand have an ultimate water fight. Since Thailand is really hot, Thai people wouldn’t mind getting wet outdoors for a day of fun. In Anchorage, at Northwood Elementary School, Thai people also celebrates this holiday, but unlike Thailand, there are no water fights in the streets because it’ll be cold. Instead, they hold an event where Thai people perform traditional dances and events, not to mention enjoy a variety of delicious Thai food.
Thailand believes that water is like a source of healing for the spirits, so they celebrate this holiday so that their ancestors can go to a better place. At Northwood Elementary, Thai performers from the community perform traditional Thai Dances to show other people what this culture can do. Although this is pretty much the same throughout the years, this year is different, because the performers were special guest that came from California to participate in the Asian Alaskan Cultural Center (AACC) representing Thailand. The Vice President of the AACC invited them to perform in the Songkran Festival as special guests.
Hector Demas, one of the performers, is a martial artist who mainly focuses on Muay Thai or Thai Boxing. With his boxing partner, they did a special performance displaying the ways of Muay Thai by showing the traditional stances and fighting posture. Same with Thai Dancing, this is meant to show the world that Thailand has a traditional style of fighting. “Martial Arts is like another way to express myself, so learning Muay Thai expresses my inner Thai personality,” Demas said. When Demas was performing, he promised himself to show the audience that Muay Thai is not just another form of fighting method, but an overall cultural sport that expresses the player.
Muamta Sythe, one of the head chefs in the Thai Festival, is a staff member who started bringing the Thai Festival to Alaska. Sythe explains the overall importance of why Thai people celebrate this festival and how she celebrates this holiday. “Like some other cultures, we believe that water is the key element to have good luck and live well in the future, that is why this year, we are searing seafood,” Sythe said. She explains that after the celebration, she often goes to the temples and prays to her ancestors and also for her future.
Thai Festivals are very important to the Thai people, but the Thai community wants to share this traditional holiday, and the overall culture itself. Even though some Thai Festivals are meant to be celebrated as serious holidays, Songkran is a holiday that is meant for fun and enjoyment. The next Thai Festival will be around early November, so please stop by and check the festival out; it won’t be a disappointment.