Thai water festival to be cut short

Bangkok, March 11 (IANS) Thailand’s annual Songkran water festival may run for only three days this year as the country is suffering its worst drought in two decades.

According to a proposal which will be forwarded to the Songkran festival organising committee of Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) next week, the water festival this year may last from April 13 to 15. The celebration usually begins on April 12, Xinhua news agency reported.

Bangkok deputy governor Amorn Kijchawengkul said the proposal to cut short the celebration was based on this year’s critical water shortages, adding that the city will also urge adjacent provinces to co-organise their Songkran celebrations with Bangkok to save water.

Bangkok uses up to about 2 billion litres of water per day, and due to the drought crisis, they should aim to cut consumption by 20 percent, Amorn said.

Thailand has been hit by severe drought, with water levels in the country’s big dams at their lowest since 1994, and drought disaster zones have been declared in 46 districts of 12 provinces.

The Songkran festival is the traditional Thai New Year’s Day, during which people are accustomed to splashing water on others to rinse away misfortune and evil.

People mark the festival by having “water fights” using containers of water or water guns, or stand at the side of roads with a hose and soak any one who passes by.

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