Thai Perfumeries With Thailand New Year Traditions

Thai Perfumeries are comprised of several kinds of fragrant cosmetics. In the old days, ladies would wear perfume everyday while men would do in some special occasions. Thai Perfumeries could described 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 pollens. Thai people use Pang-ram after taking 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 (น้ำอบไทย), 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 to 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.

The charming handicrafts of Northern Thailand

For many visitors to Chiang Mai, the culture of Northern Thailand is best represented by the beautiful temples and endless trekking in the mountains. There is however more to this area than colourful hill tribes and elephant rides. Many people have now discovered the fantastic shopping including the Baan Tawai craft centre, which can be found just to the south of the city. Among the many bargains here are a huge selection of handicrafts and cultural souvenirs.

Chiang Mai has a famous Night Bazaar which is a popular destination for visitors looking for interesting items to take home. Most people leave having purchased far more than they intended to, and the local shipping companies do a roaring business. The choice of goods on display is bewildering, and everything from antiques to silk products can be found. You may be surprised to know Baan Tawai has many of the same products for sale as the Night Bazaar and more, and at much cheaper prices.

The area has been established as an artisan centre for a considerable time, but the growing number of tourists over the last five years has led to an expansion. A new wing has been added in addition to the existing arcades of small shops and stalls. A number of large shops that deal in antiques, furniture and outdoor ceramics can also be found on the road leading to the centre. Many overseas handicraft dealers make regular visits to Baan Tawai to make bulk purchases for their outlets abroad.

You may only be looking for a few souvenirs to take back home, but it is worthwhile spending half a day here browsing the many stalls. The items on display are among the cheapest you will find anywhere in Thailand and include bamboo products, wall hangings, vases, frames, oil and soap gift packs, lamps, ornaments, antique reproductions, silk, incense, candles and much more.

You may see these products at other tourist centres in Phuket, Bangkok and Samui, but the choice will be far less and the prices up to 200 per cent more expensive. Most of the handicrafts at Baan Tawai are made from natural materials and are uniquely Thai.

Even if you do not intend to make any purchases in Chiang Mai, it’s fun wandering around and seeing the artisans at work. Most of the craftsmen and women are extremely experienced and gifted, and you will get to see them applying delicate lacquer work, carving busts, painting, weaving rattan and colouring figurines.

You should also look out for the beautiful tropical gardens that so many of the traders have created in front of their shops. This is fairly typical of the area as the locals take pride in building water features, displays and small ponds. You will also see these displays in shops, restaurants and hotel lobbies throughout Chiang Mai.

Wood is one of the most popular materials used by the artisans and you will find some excellent Buddhist art pieces, carved figurines, décor items and wall hangings. The range has increased significantly over the years according to demand, and recent introductions include contemporary designs and modern pieces. Several shops make teak furniture on a made-to-order basis. Don’t be put off by the size and weight as local shipping companies can quickly arrange for large items to be transported to any country.

Some of the finest Asian antiques in the world can be found here at Baan Tawai in Chiang Mai. Apart from the many valuable pieces, you can also purchase some extremely good reproductions. For the price of just one original 18th century Buddha head, you could furnish your entire house with equally impressive looking copies.

The market for good reproductions is growing in size as the antiques business is notoriously difficult, and most people are content with something that just looks old. In fact, some of the best customers include the country’s top hotels in Phuket and Bangkok. The production of these items includes burying new pieces soaked in acid to shorten the aging process.

The handicrafts that are manufactured in Chiang Mai, Thailand can now be found in many cities around the world. The quality products and distinctive styles represent excellent value for money, and are common in decor shops and flea markets from New York to Sydney. Don’t be surprised if you come here intending to look around and then find yourself rushing off to luggage stall for something to carry all your purchases home in!