FRIDAY, APRIL 6: Look out for falling water!
It’s the Theravadin Buddhist new year, marked in countries like Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka and Cambodia—and Thais are gearing up for their own new year celebration in a water-splashing, pail-soaking extravaganza: Songkran! (CNNGo has more.) The Buddhist New Year observance will be a time for reflection and quieter events, beginning on the first full moon day of April and continuing for three days. Theravada Buddhists currently uphold the oldest surviving Buddhist school and claim more than 100 million members worldwide. (Wikipedia has details.)
Buddhist countries are in the news:
Sri Lanka, which boasts a 70 percent Theravada population, is booming according to a report by Agence France-Presse. The AFP report says: Sri Lanka’s economy grew by 8.3 percent last year, the fastest expansion since independence from Britain in 1948, the census and statistics department said Thursday.
Thailand faces public fears as the massive Songkran festival looms. People around the world are concerned about recent bombings that are aimed at tourists. (Check out an article in the UN Dispatch.)
ReadTheSpirit Media Tip: One of the best newspapers regularly covering southeast Asia is The Straits Times, which maintains bureaus across the region. Here is one of the Straits Times’ recent stories on the Thai bombings, for example. If you’ve got an iPhone or iPad and care about this region of the world, The Straits Times also provides a free App of regularly updated news.