Songkran or Thai New Year (April 13-15) is the most important festival/holiday in Thailand and a festival rich with traditions a.o. merit making and offering food to monks, paying reverence to elders etc.. Another aspect of this tradition is the pouring of water over Buddha statues and people. The pouring of water stands for purification and the washing away of sins and bad luck. And what’s easier to pour water with then a bowl … but not any bowl
In 2016 in the week leading up to Songkran a red bowl was distributed in (mostly) Northern Thailand, with a message of support from Thaksin Shinawatra, a former PM deposed in the coup of 2006. The North and Northeast of Thailand being traditional powerbases of Thaksin’s Phue Thai Party.
The text on the bowl reads:
“Although the situation is very heated, may all brothers and sisters receive cool bliss from this bowl, with love and care. Happy Songkran Day” 13 April 2016 & Thaksin’s signature
A woman got arrested for showing a picture of herself holding the bowl on her FB page. She was charged with Article 116 of the Criminal Code (Sedition) but released on bail (she never got prosecuted though, at least not until now) The arresting officer told her that “posting the picture of the bowl is a threat to national security”. Since posting a picture of a bowl was already a national security threat of course the bowl itself was confiscated and distribution was banned. Luckily one bowl escaped this ordeal and landed in our collections.
Thai political exile Giles Ungpakorn had a blog (Dangers at Songkran) on the bowl, and It also lead to the making of different satirical songs by (exile) Thai musicians.
Two songs by DJ Yam
And one by singer Wanchana Koeddee (auth. Adisorn Piengked)
Watch the video clip for hilarious footage of the arrested bowls sitting on the desk of the police officer writing his report ..
(call no. BG K22/639)