Making a splash: Elephants soak crowds in Thailand to celebrate New Year

Ruth Doherty

Elephants and tourists had a splashing time yesterday when they indulged in the world's biggest water fight to mark the Songkran water festival.

In Ayutthaya province, 50 miles north of Bangkok, the animals filled their trunks to drench tourists and locals who were celebrating on the streets.

The elephants were decorated with paint as they took part in the festival to mark the traditional Thai new year.

The festival is one of the country's most celebrated annual events and comes from an ancient custom to help guarantee enough water for the new season's crops.

Traditionally young people would pour scented water over their elders' hands as a mark of respect, but nowadays the streets are usually full of people armed with water pistols as the day is celebrated with a massive water fight.

The celebrations took place throughout the country and included parades, beauty contests and a number of Buddhist ceremonies and rituals.

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