Songkran starts with a sober splash

Songkran starts with a sober splash

Most Songkran revellers yesterday celebrated the water festival in a buoyant, well-behaved manner around the country - but drunken youths gave the organiser of a Buri Ram event "headaches" and were duly sent to "hell" as punishment.

In Buri Ram province, over 100,000 revellers flocked to I-mobile stadium to celebrate a two-day event organised by Buri Ram United Football Club that concludes today and is in its third consecutive year.

Controlling a crowd of that scale is not easy for organisers, so Buri Ram United Club chairman Newin Chidchob came up with a carrot and stick approach to try and achieve that.

Newin organised a special zone in the stadium - "hell and heaven". People who do good deeds go to heaven and people committing bad deeds go to hell.

Misbehaved revellers were yesterday placed inside metal cages, each of which had eight large pots filled with hot water.

Newin said he organised the event so people could blissfully enjoy the water festival but he had lots of headaches caused by youngsters getting into brawls after getting drunk.

He said since the stadium was private property, he told people who attended the event to follow the rules. People who broke the rules were sent to hell.

In Bangkok, Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra presided over a merit-making ceremony where food was offered to 189 monks.

He also chaired a ceremony at Sanam Luang in which water was poured on the hands of revered elders and he asked to be blessed by senior citizens and senior national artists.

The Culture Ministry marked Songkran by celebrating the Thai way of life.

Apart from a religious ceremony, there are also Thai food and handicraft demonstrations while revellers enjoyed stage performances and a beauty queen contest.

It also featured the traditional Thai dance ramwong, exhibitions on Thai culture and folklore, as well as sand castle construction, Thai games, an outdoor theatre and the sale of unique products from 50 districts of Bangkok.

At Khao San Road, a famous spot for Songkran celebrations, officials said the campaign to ensure that Songkran was celebrated safety and without alcohol, powder and sexually provocative clothes was satisfactorily achieved.

On Silom Road, thousands turned up to celebrate Songkran.

People started flocking to the road - blocked off to traffic - at 2pm. City officials cleaned the road and its footpaths along a one-kilometre stretch from the Saladaeng intersection to the Nararom intersection.

They increased the number police patrolling Khao San Road from 1,000 to 1,500 and from 350 to 500 on Silom Road.

Uniformed and plainclothed police mingled among revellers in a bid to curtail inappropriate conduct such as sexual harassment or to warn women dressed provocatively. Revellers were also warned not to carry valuables due to pickpockets.

Police set up 12 checkpoints on Khao San and Rambutri roads to accept complaints for revellers.

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