This year, we spotlight two members of our Dugoni School family who are generously sharing their holiday traditions and personal Songkran Festival memories. We are grateful to both of them!
—Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Committee
Aiyasara Kittivatana, RDA, CDA, OMSA, MA (SpEd)
Special Care Clinic/Hospital Dentistry
"Sawasdee ka!” My name is Aiyasara — meaning Goddess. I was born in Washington State, but I grew up in Thailand. After graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, I decided to come back to the States to continue my education. This month marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year, also known as Songkran Festival or Water Festival. Songkran is on April 13-15 every year. When I was much younger, I loved to visit my grandmother in her hometown. We prepared special traditional Thai food many days prior to the festival. On Songkran day, we went to the temple to give alms to Buddhist monks, bathing of Buddha images with Thai scented water, and building sand stupas on the temple ground. We also made a merit by releasing birds and fish. This was a chance for me to dress up in a beautiful Thai costume too. We pay respect to our elders and pour Thai scented water into their hands as a sign of respect and veneration. There were many Thai classical music and dance performance. It was beautiful. After that it’s a playtime especially for young people; we began splashing Thai scented water, put a soft-prepared chalk powder on friend’s face, and had a water fight after that. It was fun. Those were the best time of my life during Songkran holidays. As this Thai New Year coming, I wish the Dugoni family good health and happiness. “Suk San Wan Songkran ka” (Happy Songkran).
Tiffany Vanichviroon, DDS 2024
Sawasdee ka, my name is Tiffany and I am from Thailand! Even though I was born in California, I was fortunate enough to have spent my childhood growing up in Thailand. This week marks the Thai new year, known as the Songkran festival to Thais. As a kid, this was one of my favorite holidays! Songkran is celebrated by all Thais where everyone comes together to engage in a nationwide water fight! All my family and friends would throw ice-cold water at each other and use water guns to cool each other down on one of the hottest weeks of the year. Everyone was fair game, including strangers and tourists from all backgrounds and ages. My favorite memory as a child was probably the time when I was so focused on aiming my ice-cold water gun at my neighbors, when a motorcyclist rode by and dunked ice-cold water on me first. I can still recall the sounds of laughter, music and instruments ringing throughout the city as everyone came together to celebrate. Traditionally, this festival is held as a way for Thais to symbolically show their gratitude towards the Chao Phraya River, the main river that runs through the capital and supplies the nation with water to use. It is the time of year we reflect on our large usage of water and are thankful for this valuable resource. As we head into this new year, I wish the Dugoni community good health and cheerful times as we slowly re-enter a new chapter of in-person celebrations!