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Thais gripped by historical costume frenzy as they ring in new year

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BANGKOK: Residents of Bangkok celebrated Thailand’s traditional new year on Thursday wearing colourful lace blouses, long skirts and loincloths after a frenzy for costumes was popularized by a well-liked historical TV drama.


“The demand is crazy,” Bangkok shop owner Pavarisa Narawit said. “My customers had to reserve the costumes weeks in advance.”


“I feel so happy joining the festivities in this costume,” said Kanchana Charbsuwan, a 59-year-old Bangkok resident wearing a yellow blouse, purple loincloths and a pink shawl draped over one of her shoulders. “It makes me feel proud to be Thai.”


Thais attended celebrations for the new year, also known as the water festival, organised by local authorities across the country.


Costume fever hit Thailand in early February when King Maha Vajiralongkorn initiated a historically-themed festival in front of his palace in Bangkok. The 65-year-old king took the throne in late 2016 following his late father king Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death.


The fascination with costumes hit a fever pitch in late February when a historical drama set in the 17th century was broadcast on Thai television. Thais scrambled to buy and rent traditional costumes and flocked historical sites in the ancient city of Ayutthaya to take pictures in their costumes.


The traditional new year is on Friday and will continue throughout the weekend. People celebrate the occasion by splashing water onto others with bowls, tanks, hoses and water guns. — dpa


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