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Thais forget political woes momentarily

Publication Date : 14-04-2014

 

The Songkran festival appears to have cooled down Thai politics, at least for a short while, given the reduction in political violence, and a break in politicians' activities during the five-day holiday, which began on Saturday.

Revellers enjoyed themselves with traditional water fights across the country, including at political rally venues in Bangkok. Lumpini Park was packed with anti-government protesters in traditional costume challenging each other in water combat. The protesters were restricted from bringing their own water and white clay into the site but were provided with alternatives by the protest organisers.

People's Democratic Reform Committee chief leader Suthep Thaugsuban slowly rode a motorcycle through Lumpini Park taking water hits and receiving greetings from supporters. A fun fair was also held in the protest site near and around the Government House and a road network occupied by supporters of the Students and People's Network for Thailand's Reform.

Thai and foreign revellers gathered and shared the fun on Silom Road across the street. Activities on Khao San Road in Bangkok, the most famous venue for Songkran, warmed up yesterday as more and more celebrants gathered.

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, accompanied by her son, gave alms offerings to 109 monks to mark Songkran, the Thai traditional New Year, at Tha Phae Gate in the northern province of Chiang Mai.

Yingluck then presided over the opening ceremony of the Chiang Mai Lanna New Year celebration 2014 in the famous northern resort province, one of the most popular destinations for tourists celebrating Songkran. Yingluck wished happiness for all Thais on this occasion.

Songkran is celebrated traditionally on the calendar dates of April 13, 14 and 15. April 16 is a substitute, because the 13th is a Sunday this year.

In Phichit, a 14-year-old boy was electrocuted and a 16-year-old was injured at a foam party in Muang district, after a foam dispenser apparently suffered an electrical leak. Both victims were dancing near the area and touched the dispenser. The foam party was halted by local officials, who ordered an investigation into the incident.

Alms were given to 187 monks |at a ceremony at the Civic Plaza |near the Bangkok City Hall by |the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. A trade fair was also scheduled at this venue from yesterday to tomorrowTuesday, featuring traditional goods and food from all 50 capital districts.

The authentic ancient Buddha Sihing image has been placed in a shrine at this event, along with imitative images of nine other Buddha statues from various temples.

Alms ceremonies were held elsewhere across the country yesterday, either at official events by local authorities or private functions, with Buddhist prayers said to bless celebrants who set free birds and fish.

There were 102 deaths and injuries to 893 people in 471 road accidents reported as of yesterday - day two of the seven-day safety campaign period. The daily update was compiled by the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation. Drunk-driving remained the largest cause of accidents (38.43 per cent), followed by speeding (25.27 per cent).

Police pulled over 658,214 motorcycles and vehicles at checkpoints for inspection, with 99,896 motorcyclists and motorists fined for driving without licences and 32,674 for not wearing safety helmets.

 

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