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Thailand Tourism and Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai celebrate Thai New Year
  • April 2014

Tourism Authority of Thailand and Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai celebrate Thai New Year in Mumbai

Songkran’s joyous sights, sounds and aromas found their way to Mumbai as the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai joined hands to celebrate the Kingdom’s biggest festival at the hotel’s pan-Asian restaurant San-Qi.

The celebration included a simulation of the country-encompassing, carnival-esque festival of Songkran ie Thai New Year which marked the start of a week-long Songkran Food Festival at Four Seasons Mumbai. Under the artful direction of Thai Master Chef Seefah Ketchaiyo who hails from Bangkok, the festival will run from April 08 to April 15. A special menu comprising celebratory delicacies such as Pla Tuna Yang Gub Puk Yam (Seared Tuna Spicy Salad) and Eggless Noodles Goong Sa Mun Plai (Eggless Noodles with Thai-spiced Prawn) are going to be dished out as part of the festivities.

The initiative is part of the tourism board’s strategy to maintain and grow the already strong repeat travel segment out of India. Sethaphan Buddhani, director, TAT Mumbai Office said, “We are delighted to bring the spirit of Songkran to Mumbai. India continues to be a huge market for Thailand with 1,049,856 travellers during 2013. Many of these are repeat visitors and we are keen to introduce the traveller to new experiences possible in the destination, such as our multitude of festivals, golf, rural tourism and cultural elements like Thai Kickboxing.”

“Segments of the Indian market are culturally exposed and well-travelled. They are today looking for more immersive experiences. Loi Krathong \" best recognized by its floating lanterns, is already popular amongst Indian travellers. I expect that Songkran will also be a big hit here. People who experience the Songkran Food Festival at the Four Seasons Mumbai are sure to plan a trip there for Songkran next year,” Mr Buddhani added.

While Indians were traditionally insistent on having Indian meals even while abroad, most sections of the market have caught up with gastronomy as an integral part of their travel experience. “People no longer stop at sampling the food. The inclusion of a culinary class on itineraries is becoming increasingly popular,” Mr Buddhani said.

Moreover, the Indian gourmet has already had his fill of green and red curries as well as tom yum soups. Cuisine is becoming an increasingly significant component of the Indian traveller’s Thailand itinerary. Besides exploring the nation’s culinary wonders by sampling them, often a meal that emerges from a cooking class is included as part of the experience, particularly in Bangkok. The Blue Elephant Cooking School is among the best places to learn the art of beautifully crafted and presented Thai cuisine in Bangkok. Other options that travellers tend to explore include Le Cordon Bleu Dusit and the cooking school at The Siam. LCBD offers all the standard Le Cordon Bleu programmes as well as a Professional Thai Cuisine programme unique to Le Cordon Bleu Dusit. At the Siam’s charming riverside cooking school, travellers can (upon request) set up a private class with their Chef. 

Chef Ketchaiyo herself is accustomed to diners demanding a variety of Thai delicacies reminiscent of prior holidays in various parts of the Kingdom. Thai cuisine is among the most popular at San-Qi \" an indicator of its huge following in India. Andrew Harrison, General Manager Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai shares his views, “Having managed our two properties in the North of Thailand I think that it is great that we can share the typical Lanna cuisine, which hails from there and where the Songkran celebrations are the most impressive.”

Besides the obvious incentive of mouthwatering, true-to-its-roots, authentic Thai cuisine by the superbly passionate Chef Ketchaiyo, diners who attend the Songkran Food Festival stand to win a weekend getaway in Bangkok.

Songkran brings Thailand together in a country-wide New Year gala. Thais and tourists alike flit from one bedecked street to another, with containers of water and water guns. The joy is palpable as Thais carrying bowls of beige colored talc mixed with water (or sometimes rose-scented water) smear their contents on the faces of passersby in a symbolic blessing for the year to come. The festival has become a reason for tourists from all over the world to visit Thailand during April to partake in celebrations and undergo a cultural immersion.

People celebrating Songkran in traditional Buddhist fashion may visit a wat (Buddhist monastery) to pray and offer food to monks. In many cities, such as Chiang Mai, which is said to be where the festival originated, Buddha sculptures from important monasteries are paraded through the city so that people can toss water at them. In northern Thailand, people often transport handfuls of sand to a nearby wat in order to ritually compensate for the dirt that they have carried away on their feet during the rest of the year. The sand is then molded into stupa-like piles and adorned with multicolored paper flags.

The word Songkran has its roots in Sanskrit and denotes change, or transformation. Its official dates are April 13 to April 15, 2014. Festivities begin about a week prior, on April 5 and carry on until April 20.

 
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