Organized from 13rd to 16th April coinciding with Easter, this is the Water Festival – the biggest festival – to welcome New Year in Myanmar. Water symbolizes for purity that can clear away all sins, diseases and bad lucks. So people splash water to each other to begin a new year with a cleansed soul.
Thingyan New Year Festival – Most common festival in Myanmar
In Myanmar, the festival is commonly known as Thingyan, which means “change”. It lasts over 4 days: Akyo-nei (Thingyan Eve), A-kya nei, A-kyat nei and A-tet nei (the final). The fifth day is Hnit hsan ta yet nei (New Year’s Day).
On Thingyan occasion, Thaya Min God from the heaven come down to the earth on his annual visit. At the exact time of Thaya Min God’s arrival, booming of cannon sounds. After that, traditional rites are carried out to welcome the God.
Good humor prevails during the festival time. People with buckets, pots and cans of water splash to anybody passing over. Powerful water pipes are everywhere to douse people. Decorated cars or carts are driven around to throw water to everybody and get wet in return. Children use water pistols to drench their friends and relatives. In big cities like Yangon, hoses and hydrants in gardens, water balloons and even fire hoses are also used for the festival.
No passer-by will escape from drenching, no matter whether they are Buddhist or non-Buddhist, Burmese or non-Burmese, except monks, elders, sick ones and of course pregnant women.
Soaked to skin, even with water in nostrils, ears and eyes then being laughed, as the spirit of Thingyan, is called as cheer and friendship.
All corners of the country become absolutely jubilant and vibrant. Burmese damsels apply thanaka on face, pin sweet scented yellow padauk flowers on hair and dance on street.
On the final day, some people still sprinkle water onto others and say an apology, something like “Thagya Min God left his water tube and he will come back to get it.”
In the traditional way, young people will wash hair for their adults by beans and barks of acacia rugata tree. Fish and even bigger animals are released back to lakes and rivers with the wish: “I release you once, you release me ten times.”