BANGKOK: Songkran, Thailand’s traditional New Year festival, has gained recognition on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The decision was reached during the 18th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, held in Kasane, Botswana Wednesday.

Songkran is celebrated annually from April 13 to 15, marking the start of the Thai New Year. The festival is known for its joyous water-throwing activities, lively parades, and colourful displays.

The inclusion of ‘Songkran in Thailand’ on this prestigious list was acknowledged with gratitude by Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin. He expressed appreciation to all sectors involved, including the evaluation department and the committee, for their dedication to securing the festival’s place on the esteemed Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

“Songkran in Thailand represents an intangible cultural heritage, reflecting cultural diversity and human creativity, which is necessary to achieve sustainable development goals.

“The government welcomes visitors from all over the world to come and join the festival and experience the Songkran tradition in Thailand with a smile and a warm welcome,” he said.

The Foreign Ministry issued a statement emphasising that the inscription is a proud moment for Thailand, contributing significantly to the international recognition of the values and importance of Songkran as an intangible cultural heritage.

The statement emphasised that the inscription would encourage community involvement in promoting learning, access, development, and safeguarding of such cultural heritage for future generations. It also highlighted the role of international cooperation in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage across various domains.

With this inscription, Thailand now has four elements on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, including Khon Masked Dance Drama (2018), Nuad Thai (2019), Nora, Dance Drama (2021), and Songkran in Thailand, the traditional Thai New Year festival (2023). - Bernama

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