12 July 2024

Songkran is the Thai New Year holiday that many Thais look forward to spending a week-long off from work and being with their loved ones, especially Thai elders that wait for their children and grandkids to show up on their doorstep.

Traditionally, besides family reunion, Thais would also take this opportunity to make merits at the temple, and to pay respect to the elders with a ritual Thais called ‘Rod Nam Dum Hua’ where young family members would pour water on the elder’s hands and receive their blessing.

But Songkran this year, our seniors won’t be seeing their loved ones without being put at risk of COVID-19, the pandemic that has been crushing our holiday spirits for 2 Songkrans straight. 

The government still has not issued a travel ban across the provinces but everyone must strictly adhere to public health measures by not splashing water, powder smearing and insists that everyone should strictly wear masks and wash their hands often.

Ten percent of Thailand’s population is aged 60 and over, which puts Thailand to be an “aging” society, and has been since 2005, and will be classified as a “super-aged” society in 2031, where those aged 60 will make up 28% of the population.

BOT reported that Thailand will be the first developing country to enter hyper-aged society, becoming the fastest and earliest developing country to become an aging society.

With the safety of the elders in mind, distance is the best way to keep the risk of getting them infected low. But such restrictions can really take a toll on the elderly’s mental health, coming to the Songkran holiday blues during the 3rd wave of COVID-19.

Studies from UNFPA Thailand and College of Population Studies, Chulalongkorn University show that 25% of the elderly have experienced lower life satisfaction during the outbreak. They have anxiety, lose their appetite, feel lonely and unhappy.

With COVID still on the rampage, and though vaccines are becoming broader available, no one can really tell when this pandemic will come to an end. Will next year be another Songkran that seniors are going to miss out on seeing their loved ones? 

We hope not.