Dave Panther knew what he was in for when he went to the Songkran Water Festival and had no qualms about coming away covered in talcum powder and slightly wet.
The Tauranga man joined friends in celebrating the Thai new year in traditional style at yesterday's festival organised by the Bay of Plenty Buddhist Society.
"It's all part of the new year festival," he said.
Thai people and Kiwis enjoyed watching the performances and indulging in traditional food but it was the water and talcum powder fights that really put smiles on people's faces.
New Year in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia was celebrated from April 13-16, the hottest part of the year, Bay of Plenty Buddhist Society president Pat Walker said. "We have three days to go and visit friends and family. Because it's so hot, they throw a little bit of water and a little bit of talcum powder for good luck," she said. "It's a big break like the Christmas holidays here. It's a big deal."
Mrs Walker said the festival was usually held at the Buddhist temple in Welcome Bay but holding the 10th annual festival at the Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre had worked out well.
About 400 people were expected to go through the doors during the day but tickets had sold better than anticipated, she said.
The Buddhist society began the Tauranga festival 10 years ago to bring the Thai community together and allow children to celebrate the occasion in traditional style, Mrs Walker said.