March 21, 2023

Three volunteers that will be honored at a May 28 banquet: Satit “Joe” Leela-thawornchai, graduate student returning to Thailand in May; Oranuch Prutipibuthan “Juud”, a Ph.D. student graduating in May, and lead teacher for the Thai language class; and Utana “Ae” Worawut (Ae), a Ph.D. student who returned to Thailand on April 29. (Contributed photos)

AAP staff report

Elk River, Minn. (April 18, 2010) – More than 200 members of the Minnesota Thai community gathered at Wat Thai Minnesota in Elk River two weeks ago to celebrate Songkran tradition 2010 – Thai New Year Day.

Songkran is a Thai word that means “move” or “change place” and marks the end of the hot season and beginning of the rainy season in Thailand. In Minnesota, it signifies the beginning of spring, and Sunday offered beautiful weather to start the New Year.

The celebration began in the morning with chanting by the monks and the offering of alms. Then everyone enjoyed a Thai potluck meal.

There was plenty of food, and a fruit carving demonstration from Nuntana “Oy” Erickson. The entertainment included Thai classical dance, and the Mr. and Ms. Songkran Thai costume contest.

In the early afternoon, the younger generation paid respects to their Thai elders by pouring water over their hands and wishing them blessings in the New Year. Next was a Songkran Thai costume contest in which contestants were judged on their poise, personality, dress and confidence. The celebration ended with traditional Thai dancing and water sprinkling to wish each other good luck and good health in the coming year.

Wat Thai Minnesota wishes to thank the volunteers who are teaching free Thai language classes every Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. at the Wat in Elk River.  These volunteer teachers are all Thai students at the University of Minnesota, Oranuch Prutipibuthan (Juud), Satit Leela-thawornchai (Joe) Utana Worawut (Ae), and Chayut  Piromsumbat (Mou).

The three will be honored at a May fundraiser banquet with others for their part in making Thai language lessons available for interested individuals.

Other special guests at the New Year included Dr. Catherine Solheim, an Associate Professor of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota, and also the President of Thai Association of Minnesota. She served as a judge for the Songkran pageant.

Songkran is the Thai traditional New Year.  In Thailand, the celebration will start on April 13 and last for three days. The first day is the Songkran festival, Maha Songkran, the day to mark the end of the old year.  The second day, Wan Nao, is New Year’s Eve. The third day, Wan Thaloeng Sok, marks the beginning of the New Year.

The next event at the Wat Thai is the Visakha Puja Day on May 30, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 10863 – 208th Avenue, NW, Elk River, MN 55330. For more information call 763-241-0710 and visit the Wat Thai and Thai Buddhist Center of Minnesota online at

The next Thai community event will be an Asian Charity Concert and Volunteer Recognition on May 28, 2010 from 6:00 p.m. to Midnight at Buasavanh Restaurant & Banquet Hall, 7324 Lakeland Avenue N, Brooklyn Park, MN 55428. The event will include a performance from famous Thai pop singer Thida Doungdao now living in Florida.

Tickets are $15 or get a free ticket for a $150 table of 10. For tickets call Ta at 612-205-8674 or Noi at 763-447-1573, Burapa at 612-636-7309 – 952-201-4110, Pang at 763-548-4370, or call the restaurant for tickets and directions to 763-315-1966 or Thomas at 612-581-2248.

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