Thai new year splashes in with water fights

Revelers use water guns to spray at one another as they celebrate the Buddhist New Year, locally known as Songkran, in Bangkok on Sunday. — AFP

Bangkok — Water-spraying elephants, raves and boisterous, street-blocking water fights -- Thailand's Buddhist new year arrived with a splash Saturday, a once calm festival now celebrated with a more raucous edge.

Paying respects to elders and sprinkling water over figures of Buddha at local temples are some of the traditions of the three-day new year celebration -- known as Songkran.

Thais and foreigners sporting floral shirts arm themselves with colorful water pistols and protective goggles, engaging in water fights that bring entire streets to a standstill.

Authorities had issued warnings beforehand on modesty.

In the Bangkok tourist hotspot Khao San road, two young men dressed in school uniforms get doused by passersby wielding high-powered water pistols and buckets of water.

And in Ayutthaya, elephants painted in colorful floral designs lift their trunks and spray water on delighted tourists, with the town's ancient temples serving as a backdrop. — AFP