UNESCO to Consider Listing Songkran as Thai Cultural Heritage

Songkran Festival in Bangkok, 2018 (Photo: Novotel)
Songkran Festival in Bangkok, 2018 (Photo: Novotel)

The Songkran festival has been included by UNESCO in a tentative list to be considered as Thailand’s intangible cultural heritage.

The country now has four items awaiting consideration at the end of this year, including Khon masked dance drama, traditional Thai massage, Nora dance drama, and Songkran.

Intangible cultural heritage is considered by member states of UNESCO in relation to the tangible World Heritage focusing on intangible aspects of culture.

Thailand’s Department of Cultural Promotion submits seven intangible cultural heritage categories to Unesco annually, with crafts, folk literature, sports, traditions, wisdom, and languages being the seven categories.

The country has said it will propose other items to UNESCO as well, including Muay Thai, Phi Ta Khon, and mango sticky rice.

But these listings are problematic for other countries in the region with similar customs and traditions.

Cambodia, host of this year’s Southeast Asian Games, has chosen to use its own name for the sport of kickboxing, “Kun Khmer,” in place of “Muay Thai,” upsetting Thailand which may withhold its athletes from the games.