BANGKOK, April 14 (NNN-Bernama) — A statue of Ronald McDonald offering Thai traditional ‘wai’ greetings stands outside a 24-hour McDonald’s restaurant at Khaosan Road in Thai capital. Inside, however, the fast-food outlet is temporarily closed.
It was Tuesday, the first day of Songkran – traditional Thai New Year – the streets appeared deserted with most of the restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars massage parlours as well as convenient stores and souvenir shops remain shuttered.
Just a handful of shops can be seen open and the Khaosan Road that is considered the heart of Songkran celebration in Bangkok was eerily quiet and empty. No crowds, water fights/splashing, street parties and concerts for second consecutive year as the Thai government battles the third wave of COVID-19.
Just a handful of locals clad in bright floral shirts, wearing face masks were seen strolling through the famous backpacker street while at a corner a television crew was spotted doing a live cross at the empty street.
Again, Thailand is celebrating another muted Songkran this year amid a third wave of COVID-19 infections.
Thailand has been relatively successful in containing COVID-19 until there was a rise in mid-December and another fresh outbreak in March.
On Wednesday, Thailand recorded 1,335 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily count since the outbreak in January last year.
The government cancelled Songkran activities and celebrations including water fight/splashing to curb the spread of COVID-19.
For a restaurant owner at Khaosan Road, Ponsak Yenwattankun, this year’s Songkran is a moderate celebration for him.
His employees who cannot return home due to current COVID-19 outbreak performed the Rot Nam Dam Hua – a traditional ceremony during Songkran where the younger generation pour scented water onto the palms of the elders to seek blessings.
“Wishing you good health, happiness and prosperity in the coming year,” the 50-year-old Ponsak said after his employees poured the scented water onto his palms.
“We hope the traditional pouring of water will wash away bad luck and COVID-19… we hope to return to normalcy after Songkran holiday,” he told Bernama.
Meanwhile, the 29-year-old Punya Puao said she missed Songkran celebration with her family at her home province of Kalasin for second time due to COVID-19.
“This year, we are celebrating Songkran in the new normal. The authorities have banned water fights/splashing but this year we can visit the temples to pray and make offerings as well as performing the bathing ritual of Buddha states (an iconic ritual to wash away bad luck),” she said when met at Wat Saket also known as Phu Khao Thong here.
Despite the cancellation of Songkran celebration and activities involving crowds, Chusi, 77, said she is happy as the government allowed the traditional Songkran activities including religious activities to go on.
“I hope everyone will continue to observe social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19 during Songkran holiday. I hope we can return to normalcy soon,” she said.
Source: NAM News Network