Painted Thai elephants spray tourists with water to banish bad luck

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AYUTTHAYA, Thailand (Reuters) - Colourfully painted elephants in the ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya sprayed people with water on Tuesday in a water fight that has become tradition to mark the country’s New Year festivities.

“It’s indescribable, it’s amazing. You come out, you get in the tuk-tuk and you start having a water fight with the elephants,” said David Gray, a British tourist sporting a bright Hawaiian shirt.

Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage city, is home to one of the country’s most popular elephant camps.

This year, Thailand celebrates the annual water festival, called Songkran, from April 13 to 15, to mark the traditional New Year.

The Songkran festival is often referred to as the world’s biggest water fight - a time when revellers splash water on each other under the scorching sun. Everyone is fair game and tourists flock to the fun.

Thais believe water washes away bad luck and helps usher in prosperity.

Apart from the big splash, the New Year is also a time for family gatherings, praying, and paying respects to ancestors and dead relatives.

Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Karishma Singh