Yesterday I was invited by Tourism Authority of Thailand to celebrate the Songkran festival with them, ahead of its time. The venue was San-Qi, Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai. Songkran is the New Year festival of Thailand celebrated in mid April.
Thai cuisine has become a significant component of the Indian traveler’s Thailand itinerary and what better way to start the festival with authentic Thai food!
I reached the venue on time and was promptly welcomed with a garland and the welcome drink, a cocktail of Lychee juice, cocoanut water and lemon grass extract. The cool mix got me comfortable in no time.
The Songkran festival begins with offering of water to Lord Buddha by the elders of the family. This ritual is mostly performed at the temple first before repeating it at home. Then the youngsters do the same to the elders by pouring water on their hands, asking for their blessings and forgiveness for their sins! Here, the Thai government officials simulated the same feel & began the scented water offerings and then we followed suite.
We were told, this part of Songkran is somewhat similar to our Holi. People can be seen with containers of water & water guns. They also smear beige colored paste on each others’ faces. The festival has become a reason for tourists from across the world to visit Thailand and to join the locals in celebrations.
I also discussed and exchanged notes on various aspects of tourism with the tourism officials. In fact, listening to me, the wife of Deputy Consul General told me that I had been to places in Thailand even she hasn’t. Now, that’s a huge compliment. 😀
Coming to food, we had a sit down lunch with a special menu comprising of celebratory delicacies with a 4 course meal prepared by Thai chef Seefah Ketchaiyo who hails from Chiang Mai. It ended with the ever popular mango-sticky rice, yes, Alphonso, no less. Here is a visual treat for you all.
Pla Tuna Yang Gub Puk Yam (Seared Tuna Spicy Salad)
Yam kao neaw Thod (Spicy Crispy sticky rice salad )
Hoy shall phad sauce ta khai (Stir fried Scallop with lemon grass sauce)
Mango Sticky Rice for desert
Petite chef Seefah Ketchaiyo who patiently answered all our queries.
This initiative is a part of the tourism board’s strategy to grow the already strong repeat travel segment out of India. And you all know I am one of those repeat visitors to the beautiful country! 🙂
Sethaphan Buddhani, director, TAT Mumbai Office said, “We are delighted to bring the spirit of Songkran to Mumbai. India continues to be a huge market for Thailand, many of these are repeat visitors and we are keen to introduce the traveller to new experiences such as our multitude of festivals, golf, rural tourism and cultural elements like Thai Kickboxing.”
Boy! I have been to Thailand several times, but never during a festival ! If only the Travel Gods listen to me now.
Are you going to Thailand for Songkran? Hurry up, though the festival is from April 13th to April 15th, the festivities begin from 5th itself and carry on till April 20th.
If you can’t make it this year, you can have a feel of the same at Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai which is holding a week-long Songkran Food festival.
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