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Elephants soak passers-by ahead of boisterous Thai holiday

Associated Press logo Associated Press 11/04/2017
With assist from its mahouts, elephants blow water from its trunk to tourists on motor-tricycle or Tuk Tuk, ahead of the Buddhist New Year, known here as Songkran, in Ayutthaya province, central Thailand Tuesday, April 11, 2017. The three-day new year festival will start on April 13.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit) © The Associated Press With assist from its mahouts, elephants blow water from its trunk to tourists on motor-tricycle or Tuk Tuk, ahead of the Buddhist New Year, known here as Songkran, in Ayutthaya province, central Thailand Tuesday, April 11, 2017. The three-day new year festival will start on April 13.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

AYUTTHAYA, Thailand — Trained elephants sprayed motorists and passers-by with water in Thailand's old capital city of Ayutthaya on Tuesday to welcome in the Buddhist New Year, known as "Songkran."

The jumbos from an elephant camp in the old capital Ayutthaya were brought out to rake passing traffic, soak passengers in open vehicles and spray anyone foolish or brave enough to venture within range.

The holiday, the longest in the Thai calendar, starts later this week and runs officially for three days. Cities empty out as workers head home to see family and celebrate by cleansing images of the Buddha, washing the hands and feet of elders, and throwing water on each other in what is sometimes called the world's biggest water-fight.

The festival -- which is also celebrated in neighboring Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos -- falls at the hottest time of the year, when temperatures often creep above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

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