Sat, Apr 14, 2018 - Page 14 News List

Elephant water battle heralds Thai new year
大象打水仗 宣告泰國新年起跑

Visitors and elephants splash water at each other during a preview of the Songkran Festival celebration, the Thai traditional New Year, in the city of Ayutthaya, Thailand, on Wednesday.
週三在泰國阿瑜陀耶的市區中,遊客們和大象在泰國傳統新年「宋干節」慶祝活動的預演中互相潑水。

Photo: AFP
照片:法新社

Elephants used their trunks to shower floral-clad Thais with water on Wednesday in a street fight celebrating the kingdom’s traditional new year, a raucous festival known as Songkran that will bring revelers out for a nationwide water battle this week.

The animals, whose wrinkled hides were decorated with paint, splashed and sprayed in the streets of Thailand’s former capital Ayutthaya, a tourist hotspot famed for its ancient temple ruins.

A mix of Thais and foreigners armed with water guns and buckets fired back at the elephants, who were controlled by handlers — known as mahouts — riding on their backs.

“Today our children (elephants) are having fun and the foreigners who come to Ayutthaya are happy to inherit the Thai tradition,” Tawan Sudso, an organizer of the annual event, told AFP.

The Buddhist new year festival officially starts on April 13 and runs for three days.

Traditional celebrations include paying respect to elders and sprinkling water over Buddha figures at local temples, a ritual believed to accrue good karma.

But the holiday has also become known as one of the world’s biggest water fights, drawing massive crowds of Thais and tourists to soggy street parties that bring much of the country to a standstill.

Police expect about 60,000 partiers to cram into just one Bangkok neighborhood for the watery warfare later this week.

Under military rule, Bangkok’s Songkran water fights have become less raucous in recent years with alcohol sales restricted and regular appeals from authorities to avoid provocative dancing.

Similar but smaller water festivals are also held in neighboring Buddhist countries like Myanmar and Laos.(AFP)

週三在慶祝泰王國傳統新年的一場街頭對戰中,大象用牠們的象鼻子把水噴灑在穿著花衣裳的泰國人群身上。喧鬧的泰國傳統新年節慶又稱「宋干節」,本週將會吸引狂歡的人群一起出外參加全國遍地開花的打水仗活動。

滿佈皺紋的象皮被妝點上油彩顏料,大象們在泰國的舊首都──阿瑜陀耶──的街上潑起水來,噴灑著水花。阿瑜陀耶是一個觀光勝地,以眾多古老寺廟的遺跡聞名。

混合泰國人與外國人的另一組人馬,用水槍和水桶武裝自己,向大象們「開水」射擊。被稱為「象夫」的管象人,則騎在大象的背上,控制這些動物。

這個年度活動的籌辦人塔彎‧蘇德索告訴法新社:「我們的象孩子們今天玩得很開心,造訪阿瑜陀耶的外國人也很樂於傳承此一泰國傳統。」

這個佛教新年節慶於四月十三日正式開始,一連持續三天。

傳統的慶祝活動包括向年長者致敬,隨後對地方廟宇的佛像潑灑清水,這個儀式咸認為可以增添福報。

這樣的新年假期卻也逐漸成為世界上最大規模的水仗之一,每年吸引大批的泰國人與觀光客人潮參加濕答答的街頭狂歡活動,導致泰國絕大部分地區陷入停擺。

警方預估,光是鄰近曼谷的單一地區,本週稍晚就會湧入約六萬名的派對人潮,參加濕淋淋的潑水大戰。

在軍政府統治下,酒精飲料販售受限,當局也經常呼籲大眾避免跳著煽情的舞蹈,因此曼谷的「宋干節」水仗近年來喧鬧程度稍減。

內容類似但規模較小的潑水慶典也會在包括緬甸、寮國等鄰近佛教國家舉行。

(台北時報章厚明譯)

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