The crowd had a splashing time as about 5000 people gathered at the Mt Albert War Memorial in Auckland yesterday to celebrate Songkran, the Thai traditional New Year.

The celebration at the park, also known as the Thai water festival, saw children and adults - equipped with water guns - soaking one another while others poured scented holy water on to a Buddha statue for good luck.

"Pouring water on Buddha and on each other is our way of washing away bad luck and wishing each other a good, new life ahead," said Nita Subudomsak at the festival's Buddha shrine.

"We also pour water over the palms of our elders, like the monks, to ask them for forgiveness to all that we have done wrong in the past year."

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Suwan Unlahmai, of West Auckland, said she made it a point of attending the festival to help her 3-year-old daughter Sienna Speck appreciate Thai customs and culture.

The park at New North Rd was packed with celebrants splashing water, and others sampling Thai food and watching Thai cultural performances and craft demonstrations.

In Thailand, Songkran is celebrated for up to 10 days, during which water dousing is common on streets around the country.