This very traditional festival is a period for making merit and merriment. The festival in Laos, Thailand, China (Yunnan) and Burma is known by many travellers as a water festival but it goes much deeper than that. It is the period when the faithful show formal respect to elders, their departed family members, employers, monks and each other. The traditional washing is an ablution of pouring water on the hands of those they wish to respect and a little water on the neck . Images of the Buddha are washed in lustral waters and returned then to their place of standing for the next twelve months.

The merriment is out and out riotous water throwing from alongside the roads, from elephants from high windows by bucket or water cannon. Few are spared and this activity can go on for a number of days in many places. There is often to an anointing with scented rice flour or coloured talcum which tends to be smeared over faces and other body parts.

The festival varies from place to place even within a country but generally it is a calendar festival approximately from the 12th to the 18th April.