Your path =Home>Beadmaking & Materials>Organic Materials> Plants

Southeast Asian Bead Circle On-line Newsletter Vol. 1, No. 3

Flower Beads at the Songkran Festival
in Thailand

by Bucklee Bell and Kesorn Yuangjai

The Songkran Festival is the traditional Thai New Years festival, usually held in
the first two weeks of April (12 to 14 in 1999). Originally, the Thai calendar started at this time, but New Years has recently been moved to January 1.

The celebrations involve both Buddhist ceremonies and secular public functions.
 The festivities include many parades and popular beauty contests. During all of this, water-throwing is a major activity. This is not so bad because it is the hottest season of the year. Anyone who has been in Thailand at this time knows the rule: if you don't want to get wet, don't go outside.

One thing at this holiday immediately noticeable is that most people, from all walks of life, are wearing pomelai, (the Thai word for flower-bead necklaces or garlands). We spent the three major days of the festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand, photographing various ways flower beads are used in the festival.

The flowers are usually strung by a large sewing needle and white cotton thread. Some of the more elaborate pomelai are strung by a needle approximately twelve inches (30 cm) long. They can be strung as unopened buds or after they have already blossomed. The three principal flowers are in the following pictures.

This woman is wearing buds, the man next to her blooms of frangipani (Apocynaceae sp.) locally called dawk lam ton.

A vendor with several strings of mali (Arabic Jasmine, Jasminum sambac).

A tasseled crown of dawk lak (love flower), Asclepiadaceae sp.

There are many ways to wear the flowers:

Necklaces are very common.

They can decorate hats.

Flower beads make bracelets, too.

On the first day of the festival Buddha images are taken from their wats (temples)
and paraded through the streets on floats. Revelers throw special water from cups and bowls onto the Buddhas for good luck or to wash bad luck away.
The Buddhas are often covered in pomelai.

Flowers used as umbrella fringes.

Garlands inside a float.

You can't see this small float for all the flowers.

On the last day of Songkran there is a long parade. As each group of marchers finishes the parade they walk through the governor of Chiang Mai's residence past the governor and his wife, who throw flower-scented water on the visitors.

The governor and his wife with large flower garlands.

Flowers decorating the bowl
in which the water is held.


 Small Bead Businesses | Beading & Beadwork | Ancient Beads | Trade Beads
Beadmaking & Materials | Bead Uses | Researching Beads | Beads and People
Center for Bead Research | Book Store | Free Store | Bead Bazaar
Shopping Mall | The Bead Auction | Galleries | People | Events
The Bead Site Home | Chat Line | Contact Us | Site Search Engine | FAQ