Stickman Readers' Submissions April 12th, 2004

Similarities – India And The Land That Care Forgot

It’s funny how in so many ways, Thailand is more like India, than India herself…

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For starters, the whole ‘saving face’ thing is just as prevalent in India, as in Thailand. Anything disagreeable is not talked about, and though you are permitted to do anything in private, what one does in public must be kept in check at all times.

The God Ram, the Elephant-headed God (Ganesh), the holy city of Ayodhyaa (Ayutthiya), and many more mythological events are shared with equal fervor, by bother cultures.

The Thais are better versed with the holy scriptures of ‘The Ramayana’, and ‘The Mahabharata’, than the Indians themselves… And these are said to be the backbone of Hinduism, and the very essence of India. Also, there are many who will say (and I am the first to agree) that Thai Buddhism is what Hinduism would be in its true form, had it not been ravaged and raped by the ritualistic fanaticism, and social evils, so prevalent in the Indian subcontinent today.

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Having said all that, what I would really like to talk about is the festival of water – ‘Songkran’, to the Thais, ‘Holi’, to the Indians – and how it came about. Unfortunately, these days, the true spirit of Songkran / Holi is long lost, and it is nothing but an excuse for unruly, downright bad, despicable, rowdy behaviour. But the story behind this festival, is one of a naughty, playful Child-God…

It was Krishna, or, Krishn, the king of the ancient city of Dwarka, who popularized the tradition of Holi. The origin of the colorful and frolicking tone of Songkran lies in the boyhood of Krishna.

It all started as one of the pranks, he played with his boyhood mates of Gokul and Vrindavan. Situated in North India, these were the places where he spent his childhood. It was at this time of the year, that Krishna played pranks on the village girls by drenching them in water. At first it offended the girls, but they were so fond of this mischievous little prince, that it didn’t last for long, and in time, they actually began enjoying it, looking forward to it, even. It wasn’t long before the other village-boys joined in, making it a popular yearly event.

In mythology, as Krishna grew up, the play assumed a new dimension, adding more colour to Krishna's legendary love life.

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As time went by, the culture spread it roots to other regions far and wide. It wasn’t restricted to India anymore, and went by different names in different countries… The Songkran / Holi play of Krishna is documented in hundreds of ancient paintings, murals, sculptures and scriptures found across the Asian continent.

So, when your friends and family back home ask what Songkran is all about, instead of describing it as the unruly, water-throwing, grope-fest for drunks, it has become today, this little piece of mythology might just make a better story…

Stickman says:


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