The month of April welcomes the celebration of Songkran, the Thai New Year. This exciting holiday, aptly named “the water festival”, typically involves gathering together with friends, family, and the community to reflect and “wash away” the grievances and poor luck from the past year. The symbolic nature of water as a ‘purifier’ and literal drenching of friends and neighbors in a frenzy of dramatic water splashing reminds us to leave the past behind and take part in the present moment.
This time of year is a symbol for transformation and movement forward. Songkran originates from the Sanskrit word, saṃkrānti, which literally means “going from one place to another”, referring to astrological movement. However, this concept of movement can be applied more broadly to the self, as we continue to navigate the twists and turns of our own lives.
April is also the time that we recognize World Health Day, a global health initiative through the World Health Organization, that helps to build awareness around issues concerning health and wellbeing across the global community.
After a year of unprecedented hardship, loss, and life-altering circumstances, we believe it is most fortunate that Songkran and World Health Day fall within the same month. The past year has been a wakeup call for our governments, health institutions, and citizens of all age, race, class, and creed. Now more than ever, the world needs to focus on changes that will move us forward to a healthier way of life.
On a large scale, we need to implement better practices and availability of healthcare services, which emphasize a preventive approach to health and disease. This kind of paradigm shift takes time, energy, and advocacy, but the gains are worth the effort. But for those readers who desire to participate on a smaller scale, you can start to enact change today, beginning with yourself.
Take the time to look back on your own health goals and aspirations. If you celebrated the global New Year and set expectations for 2021, are you still pursuing those goals? If not, how can you get back on track? What other changes can you make for this year that will add to your health and wellbeing? Remember that even if you don’t have the opportunity to impact health on a global scale, you still have the ability to influence those around you. Commit to being a beacon of wellness for your family, friends, and community with leading by example, and contribute to the tremendous but critical task of supporting global health and wellbeing.