Elephants soak passers-by ahead of boisterous Thai holiday

AYUTTHAYA, Thailand (AP) " Trained elephants sprayed motorists and passers-by with water in Thailand's old capital city of Ayutthaya on Tuesday to welcome in the Buddhist New Year, known as "Songkran."

The jumbos from an elephant camp in the old capital Ayutthaya were brought out to rake passing traffic, soak passengers in open vehicles and spray anyone foolish or brave enough to venture within range.

The holiday, the longest in the Thai calendar, starts later this week and runs officially for three days. Cities empty out as workers head home to see family and celebrate by cleansing images of the Buddha, washing the hands and feet of elders, and throwing water on each other in what is sometimes called the world's biggest water-fight.

The festival -- which is also celebrated in neighboring Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos -- falls at the hottest time of the year, when temperatures often creep above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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