BANGKOK — After the UN recognized Thai massage as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the government said Friday it would submit traditional Thai New Year festival to the list next year.
The submission of Songkran, which typically involves days of rowdy water fights, to the prestigious list will be jointly made with the Chinese government, because the southern region of China also has a similar tradition, culture minister Ittipol Khunpluem said.
Similar to Thailand, the Dai ethnic group in China’s Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture celebrates New Year in mid-April and sprinkles water on each other for good fortunes. The Dai are believed to be closely related to the Thais, who know them as Tai.
Ittipol said other neighboring countries who also celebrate local variants of Songkran, such as Laos and Cambodia, will be invited to jointly submit the festival to the UNESCO for its consideration as well.
In its latest entry announced on Friday, the UN’s cultural body recognized Thai massage as something to be preserved for future generations.
According to UNESCO, the practice has its “roots in self-care in Thai peasant society of the past, [where] every village had massage healers whom villagers would turn to when they had muscle aches from working the field”.