Thai Perfumes are comprised of several kinds of fragrant cosmetics. In the old days, ladies would wear perfume everyday while men would do so on some special occasions. Thai Perfumes could be divided into four categories as follows:
1. Water-based perfumeries: Nam-Ob Thai (eau de toilette ) and Nam- Proong (eau de cologne);
2. Oil-based perfumeries : Fragrant oils, Tani oil (thick body oil), and fragrant lip balm;
3. Powdered perfumeries: Fragrant talc, Sarapee talc (siamensis Kosterm), Poung talc, Kra-jae talc, powdered nutmeg, powdered Kamin (Curcuma domestica Valeton), and Juang;
4. Scent chewing herbs: Mak-Hom, Niam leaves, Ganploo (Syzygium aromaticum), and nutmeg.
These perfumeries may be applied together with each other, such as Kar-Jae talc is mixed with Nam- Ob Thai, or individually used such as scent talc for powdering.
Pang-Ram (Scented talc)
Pang-Ram is made of naturally white talcum powder. It is ground into fine particles and mixed with other fragrant herbs or perfumeries, i.e., kameyan, Magrood (lime)’s peel (Citrus hystrix), Chamod ched (Viverricula malaccensis), saffron, alum, and red cane sugar.
Ladies would directly powder their skin with dry Pang-ram, or melt it with Nam-Ob Thai before applying it. The Pang-ram could reduce skin irritation caused by heat or pollen. Thai people use Pang-ram after taking a bath.
NEW YEAR TRADITIONS
The most obvious celebration of Songkran is the throwing of water. People roam the streets with bowls of water, water guns, or even a garden hose, and drench each other and passersby. This, however, is not the heart of this festival. Not many people, even the new generation of Thais, realize that Thai ancestors started this festival to teach their descendants some important things. This festival teaches people to come home to visit their parents, pay respect to them, and usually bring them a small gift. Mother and Father have given to their children so much, and this is the time that children show them that they recognize their parents' favor. People also visit their older neighbors to keep the good relationships and to pay respect to the elders around the neighborhood. For these reasons Songkran days are also considered the family days and the elderly days.
People go to a wat to pray and give food to monks. They also clean Buddha images in temples with water and gentle Thai perfume , as it is believed that this will bring good luck and prosperity for the New Year. In many cities, such as Chiang Mai, the Buddha statues from all of the wats in the city are paraded through the streets so that people can wash them as they pass by. People carry handfuls of sand to their temple too in order to recompense the dirt that they carry away on their feet during the rest of the year. The sand is then piled into large, tiered piles and decorated with colorful flags. Later in the day, people also do community services. Going to wat and doing community service teach people to give, the most basic way to happiness in Buddhism.
Some people make New Year resolutions - to refrain from bad behaviour and to do more good things. Songkran is a time for cleaning and renewal. Many Thais take this opportunity to give their home a thorough cleaning.
The throwing water part was originated as a way to pay respect to people, by pouring a small amount of lustral water on other people’s hands as a sign of respect. The youths also do it in a more fun way. They splash others with water to relieve the heat, since April is the hottest month in Thailand (temperatures can rise to over 100°F or 40°C on some days). This has changed to water fights and splashing water to people on vehicles, a hallmark of Songkran as tourists know, as Thais assimilate more western cultures and technologies.
The use of plaster is also very common, having originated in the plaster used by monks to mark blessings.
Nowadays, the emphasis is placed on fun and water-throwing, rather than on the festival's spiritual and religious aspects, which sometimes prompts complaints from traditionalists. In recent years ,there have been calls to moderate the festival, as there are many road accidents and injuries attributed to some extreme behavior - water being thrown in the faces of travelling motorcyclists and elephant riding elders.
Stay Breezy, Breezers!