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Songkran: Thai Australians celebrate New Year.

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Laurie Ferguson MP Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services

Songkran - Thai Australians celebrate New Year

Sunday, 13 April 2008

The Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services, Laurie Ferguson, congratulated Thai Australians today on the three-day celebration of the Thai New Year, Songkran, which begins on April 13.

Sunday will be the time for Thai Australians to 'autumn clean' their houses and dress in new clothing and on Monday,food and presents will be prepared for friends, relatives and monks.

Traditionally on April 15, the first day of the New Year, Buddha images are purified with scented water, to bring good luck for the New Year. Thais then seek blessing and pour scented water into the hands of their elders as a mark of respect.

In Thailand, April is the hottest time of year, so it is no surprise that the water ritual has come to be extended to splashing each other to wash away sin and as a joyful celebration of the New Year.

'It is integral to our great and open society that we all respect the right of people to maintain their traditions and beliefs,' Mr Ferguson said.

'Our early traditions have grown with the customs of many cultures and our nation is richer for it.

'In spite of their relatively small numbers, Thai Australians have made a large contribution to our economy and society.

At the time of the 2006 Census, there were more than 30 000 Thailand-born people in Australia, an increase of 30 per cent from the 2001 Census.

'It is interesting to note more than 30 per cent of adult Thai Australians hold a tertiary qualification, compared to about 15 per cent for the general Australian population,' the parliamentary secretary said.

'I wish members of the Thai community a happy and prosperous Songkran,' Mr Ferguson added.

Media contact: Khaldoun Hajaj - 0404 078 692