Cultural feast in Lismore for the Thai New Year

CELEBRATION: Chalee Kotsu, of Eureka, participating in the blessing by the Monks for the Thai New Year celebration in Lismore.

CELEBRATION: Chalee Kotsu, of Eureka, participating in the blessing by the Monks for the Thai New Year celebration in Lismore.

6th Apr 2015 5:00 AM

Mireille Merlet-Shaw

SIZZLING satay sticks, Buddhist monks and plenty of colourful dancing all helped to create Lismore’s celebration of the Thai New Year – Songkran Day.

The New Year celebration in Thailand is all about friends and family coming together, according to Petcharat Moss, from the Northern Rivers Thai Community Association.

“What we want to do is say thank you to Australia, and our Australian friends and family, because we have a great life here,” she said.

“We have been supported by the people here, and we love to give back to the community,” she said.

The day included religious and spiritual ceremonies, cultural dancers and music as well as Thai boxing demonstrations.

Buddhism was the key religion of Thailand and Buddhists monks play a key part in New Year celebrations, Ms Moss said.

“We invite the monks to come here to pray for blessings,” Ms Moss said.

Visitors to the festival were invited to take part in a water blessing ceremony to convey their best wishes to the elderly and the monks, she said.

“When people put the water in the palms of the monk and the elderly, they give them their best wishes, and then the monks and the elderly give the wishes back to them as well,” she said.

It is all about showing respect and gratitude to the seniors, she said.

Thai New Year marks the start of the northern spring and the passing of the solstice, she said.

Songkran in Lismore has been held at the Rous Hall for many years, but this year it took over the Goodman Plaza at the Southern Cross University.

Hundreds of people attended the event with many wearing traditional Thai customs and outfits.

Entry and food was by donation and all money raised is going to be set aside for the future development of a local Buddhist temple.

Inthon McLeod, 17, is a student at Trinity Catholic College and was preparing for his first traditional Thai dance in front of a crowd yesterday.

He was set perform a dance called the ram khlong yoo, that involved him dancing with a drum strapped to his chest.

Nok and Bruce Thompson came up from Yamba to be with friends and to enjoy the festival.

Mr Thompson spent 25 years working in Thailand as a civil engineer and believes the festival is a great way for people to get a taste and feel for the culture of Thailand.

There is more to the Thai way of life than just food, which is all that a lot of people get to experience, he said.

“There are plenty of people who have no real idea what Thai culture is all about, so the day is good for Australians as well,” he said.

“Seeing the Thai community celebrating together gave people a chance to see the culture at its best.”

“People get to see and hear Thai people speaking to each other in their own language.”

The celebration was a way for Thais to stay connected, Mrs Thompson said.

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