Nambucca Heads Thai community celebrate culture

Representatives of the Nambucca Heads Thai community before the parade.

THAI women and girls from Nambucca Heads enjoyed the Songkran Festival in Coffs Harbour in April, coming home with first and second place in the Miss Songkran 2024 contest.

This festival marked the Thai New Year and the nation’s Water Festival.

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“Our event included participants from the Thai community spanning from Port Macquarie to Grafton,” Mia Kelsey from Nambucca Heads told News Of The Area.

“We showcased a costume parade, Thai dancing and a Thai pageant.”

Mia Kelsey was crowned as Miss Songkran 2024 and second-place winner was Gena Williams, both from Nambucca Heads.

On Sunday 26 May, the local Thai girls will be participating in the postponed Harmony Day in Coffs Harbour, taking place at the Botanic Gardens alongside the All One under the Sun festival.

“For Harmony Day our Thai community will demonstrate various aspects of our rich culture,” said Mia.

“We will perform traditional Thai dances, the carving of fruits and vegetables and demonstrate banana leaf and rose folding.

“Additionally, there will be a parade featuring different Thai costumes, highlighting the beauty and diversity of our heritage.

Mia spoke of how the traditional dance performances, delicious Thai food, and coming together brings back memories of home.

“Such festivals allow our local Thai community to come together and celebrate our culture in our home-away-from-home.

“Participating in Harmony Day is a great opportunity as it promotes cultural awareness, and inclusivity, builds community connections and educates people about our own and other’s cultures.”

Mia said these cultural celebrations are a time of joy, happiness and togetherness, where family and friends come together to participate in meaningful rituals and festive activities.

Lily Kelsey from Nambucca Heads and James (Pi Chi) from Coffs Harbour did a wonderful job hosting the Songkran event and explaining the significance to those unfamiliar with the day.

“I would like to say a big thank you to the Thai Par Kie group from Coffs Harbour for organising such a wonderful day for us all,” said Mia.

The Songkran pageant competition is described as a “fun-spirited, lively event that brings together a diverse range of participants”.

The participants showcase and are judged on their public speaking skills, special talents and their answers to impromptu questions.

This year there were six contestants ranging in age from fourteen to 30 from across the Mid North Coast: Mia Kelsey, Gena Williams, Yamin Aarts, Nattakarn Klinsuwan, Lauren Pengilly and Padcharapan Sopa.

Mia said Songkran is a “cherished tradition” which connects her to her heritage.

“It is one of the most significant holidays in Thailand and is known for its water festivals.

“The water fights are an iconic part of Songkran where people use anything they can to splash water on others.

“This is a fun and playful tradition that I love to participate in.”

“This practice also symbolises the washing away of bad luck and the welcoming of the new year with a fresh start.”

Another reason Songkran is important is the family gatherings.

“The day means everyone coming together and sharing the values and significance of the day.”

During Songkran, families engage in meaningful activities such as preparing food, participating in religious ceremonies and performing respectful rituals for elders.

These shared experiences create lasting memories to be passed down through generations.

“Being able to celebrate this day and my Thai culture here in Australia makes me feel connected to all my relatives over in Thailand and feel proud of my unique heritage,” she said.

Members of the Thai community in Nambucca often get together for lunch or dinner, sharing meals and helping each other with information about local events or happenings.

“Additionally, we engage in charitable activities to support people in need back in Thailand.

“Despite being far from home, we have a close-knit Thai community that includes people from various parts of Thailand, where we all share and embrace our culture,” said Mia.


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