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In Pictures: Thailand's Songkran festival
Political divisions are forgotten as New Year is celebrated with a wet and wild water nationwide fight.
Last updated: 20 Apr 2014 09:40
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Bangkok, Thailand - In spite of Thailand's seemingly never-ending political turmoil, people across the country put aside their differences - and coloured shirts - to celebrate Sonkgran, the annual water festival that marks the Thai New Year.

Here in the capital, Bangkok, revellers roam the streets armed with water pistols and buckets of icy water, showing little mercy to those who might not have been quite so keen to take part in the wet festivities.

The three days of celebration are a welcome respite from the political protests, which in this latest episode of the long-running saga have been ongoing for more than five months. Prior to Songkran, the pro-government "red shirts" had started to mobilise, fearful that the anti-government "yellow shirt" protesters were getting closer to achieving their goal of overthrowing the country's caretaker prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra.

Fiery rhetoric has spouted daily from both sides of the political divide leading to an increasingly tense situation. Grenade and gun attacks are an almost daily occurrence and the army, perhaps Thailand's most powerful institution, has warned of the threat of civil war if things continue as they are.

However, despite the gloomy political outlook, and the fact that the protests are a fight for who will control Thailand in the future, both sides have agreed to take a break for the holidays to have what is, in essence, a nationwide water fight.

Once Songkran is over and the water pistols are put away for another year, the focus will once again turn to the political arena. But for now, if only for three days, Thailand is enjoying a welcome break.


/George Henton/Al Jazeera

Songkran traditionally takes place during the hottest part of the year, providing some respite from the sweltering temperatures.



/George Henton/Al Jazeera

Revellers in Bangkok stand shoulder-to-shoulder, as massive crowds gather in the city centre.



/George Henton/Al Jazeera

A member of the Bangkok Fire Brigade fires a jet of water at revellers during a street party in the capital.



/George Henton/Al Jazeera
Unlike the numerous recent political rallies, the festival crowds tend to be made up of mostly young people.


/George Henton/Al Jazeera
Music, drinking and dancing play a big part in the street party atmosphere.


/George Henton/Al Jazeera
A tourist takes part in the festivities in Bangkok.


/George Henton/Al Jazeera

Rescue trucks stand at the end of Silom, one of the main gathering points in Bangkok. Songkran has become notorious in Thailand for the high number of road deaths, due in part to the heavy drinking associated with the holiday.



/George Henton/Al Jazeera

A young man poses for a photographer, his face covered with white paste applied by other party goers.



/George Henton/Al Jazeera

The numbers that turned out in parts of Bangkok were comparable if not greater to those that have attended some of the larger anti-government rallies in the past few months.



/George Henton/Al Jazeera

Attempting to fill water guns from fountains outside a Bangkok shopping mall can be just as damp as being targeted by the hose-bearing fire department.



/George Henton/Al Jazeera
The water fights take place across much of the city, from massive crowds to smaller groups and families enjoying the holiday.


/George Henton/Al Jazeera

In Silom, just across the road from the new camp of the anti-government protesters and the many Royal Thai army bunkers set up to protect the site, tens of thousands of people gathered to celebrate Songkran.



Follow photographer George Henton on Twitter: @georgehenton


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images:
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captions:

Songkran traditionally takes place during the hottest part of the year, providing some respite from the sweltering temperatures.

;*;

Revellers in Bangkok stand shoulder-to-shoulder, as massive crowds gather in the city centre.

;*;

A member of the Bangkok Fire Brigade fires a jet of water at revellers during a street party in the capital.

;*;Unlike the numerous recent political rallies, the festival crowds tend to be made up of mostly young people.;*;Music, drinking and dancing play a big part in the street party atmosphere.;*;A tourist takes part in the festivities in Bangkok.;*;

Rescue trucks stand at the end of Silom, one of the main gathering points in Bangkok. Songkran has become notorious in Thailand for the high number of road deaths, due in part to the heavy drinking associated with the holiday.

;*;

A young man poses for a photographer, his face covered with white paste applied by other party goers.

;*;

The numbers that turned out in parts of Bangkok were comparable if not greater to those that have attended some of the larger anti-government rallies in the past few months.

;*;

Attempting to fill water guns from fountains outside a Bangkok shopping mall can be just as damp as being targeted by the hose-bearing fire department.

;*;The water fights take place across much of the city, from massive crowds to smaller groups and families enjoying the holiday.;*;

In Silom, just across the road from the new camp of the anti-government protesters and the many Royal Thai army bunkers set up to protect the site, tens of thousands of people gathered to celebrate Songkran.

Daylife ID:
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Photographer:
;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;
Image Source:
George Henton/Al Jazeera;*;George Henton/Al Jazeera;*;George Henton/Al Jazeera;*;George Henton/Al Jazeera;*;George Henton/Al Jazeera;*;George Henton/Al Jazeera;*;George Henton/Al Jazeera;*;George Henton/Al Jazeera;*;George Henton/Al Jazeera;*;George Henton/Al Jazeera;*;George Henton/Al Jazeera;*;George Henton/Al Jazeera
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
Water Festivalhttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festivalen-ussupport@newscred.comUntitled Site10Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:09:35 GMT http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/bbb4467b91f9df62ae6453e4ba24e058Songkran traditional takes place in the hottest part of the year, providing some respite to the sweltering temperatures.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/bbb4467b91f9df62ae6453e4ba24e058George Henton/Al Jazeera Songkran traditional takes place in the hottest part of the year, providing some respite to the sweltering temperatures. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/d70f6f77af063a3dd4d0bccb8cbd7ed4Revelers in Bangkok stand shoulder to shoulder as massive crowds gather in the city centre.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/d70f6f77af063a3dd4d0bccb8cbd7ed4George Henton/Al Jazeera Revelers in Bangkok stand shoulder to shoulder as massive crowds gather in the city centre. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/a3397a163cd7a49172fd0693588c6330A member of the Bangkok Fire Brigade fires a jet of water at revelers during a street party in the capital.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/a3397a163cd7a49172fd0693588c6330George Henton/Al Jazeera A member of the Bangkok Fire Brigade fires a jet of water at revelers during a street party in the capital. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/ab0eb4f874d7b79bccf767f1554601e4Unlike the numerous recent political rallies, the festival crowds tend to be made up of mostly young people.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/ab0eb4f874d7b79bccf767f1554601e4George Henton/Al Jazeera Unlike the numerous recent political rallies, the festival crowds tend to be made up of mostly young people. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/aee84acafe98d60bfc371460546a2ffdMusic, drinking and dancing play a big part in the street party atmosphere.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/aee84acafe98d60bfc371460546a2ffdGeorge Henton/Al Jazeera Music, drinking and dancing play a big part in the street party atmosphere. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/300dbb790b68dda1783a6a2010803350A tourist takes part in the festivities in Bangkok.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/300dbb790b68dda1783a6a2010803350George Henton/Al Jazeera A tourist takes part in the festivities in Bangkok. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/bbbe63dacc8082c6bdbe2f18550dbfbfRescue trucks stand at the end of Silom, one of the main gathering points in Bangkok. Songkran has become notorious in Thailand for the high huber of road deaths, due in part to the heavy drinking associated with the holiday.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/bbbe63dacc8082c6bdbe2f18550dbfbfGeorge Henton/Al Jazeera Rescue trucks stand at the end of Silom, one of the main gathering points in Bangkok. Songkran has become notorious in Thailand for the high huber of road deaths, due in part to the heavy drinking associated with the holiday. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/2c705036167c45dc7ba89adcea785f56A young man poses for a photographer, his face covered with white paste applied by others revelers.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/2c705036167c45dc7ba89adcea785f56George Henton/Al Jazeera A young man poses for a photographer, his face covered with white paste applied by others revelers. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/ef0bddb7d781ed0ec941561d783b6ce1The numbers that turned out in parts of Bangkok were comparable if not greater to those that have attended some of the larger anti government rallies in the last few months.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/ef0bddb7d781ed0ec941561d783b6ce1George Henton/Al Jazeera The numbers that turned out in parts of Bangkok were comparable if not greater to those that have attended some of the larger anti government rallies in the last few months. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/cda9f42d5b9ee99165e2e46eee5504f9Revelers attempt to fill up their water guns with water from sprinkles outside a shopping mall in Bangkok.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/cda9f42d5b9ee99165e2e46eee5504f9George Henton/Al Jazeera Revelers attempt to fill up their water guns with water from sprinkles outside a shopping mall in Bangkok. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/5823d070ceb57ba7381d0b1c9ed8818a

The water fights take place across much of the city, from massive crowds to smaller groups and families enjoying the holiday.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/5823d070ceb57ba7381d0b1c9ed8818aGeorge Henton/Al Jazeera

The water fights take place across much of the city, from massive crowds to smaller groups and families enjoying the holiday.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/270a3d73997acd678af9707087dbecceIn Silom, just across the road from the new camp of the anti government protests and the many Royal Thai Army ‚??bunkers‚?? set up to protect the site, tens of thousands of people gathered to celebrate Songkran.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Water_Festival/slideshow/no-caption/270a3d73997acd678af9707087dbecceGeorge Henton/Al Jazeera In Silom, just across the road from the new camp of the anti government protests and the many Royal Thai Army ‚??bunkers‚?? set up to protect the site, tens of thousands of people gathered to celebrate Songkran.


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