The traditional Thingyan Water Festival, also known as the Myanmar Water Festival is held in Yangon, Myanmar. The festival is celebrated by dancers in colourful costumes performing their dance moves for the crowds. The celebration takes place after a hot season, which leads to the Myanmar New Year and is the most expected celebration of the Burmese people. Besides Myanmar, the festival is also celebrated as Songkran in Thailand and also Laos, and Chaul Chnam Thmey in Cambodia.
The Thingyan Water Festival is held yearly for around three to five days. The meaning of Thingyan, in Sanskrit language, means “transit of the Sun from Pisces to Aries”. The legend of the Thingyan festival is about an event that signifies the changing hands of the Brahma’s head, a powerful deity that lost his head in a gamble with Devas. In modern Myanmar, the event is cherished as people would wish for good health and luck for everyone who attend.
The first day of the festival is the Thingyan Eve. During this day, people would go to the temples and pagoda to make offerings to monks, wash the image of Buddha and pray while the water fighting festival commences on the second day, when Thagya Min – who is considered the King of Nat makes his descent from heaven to the earth.
The important day of the celebration is announced by the firing of a water canon at a public area. On the day of the celebration, people would be standing on bamboo stages which are erected along the streets and splash water on anyone who passes by. Trucks and jeeps would also carry pipes of water to spray at people around the area while children uses water pistols to shoot water at anyone in sight, excluding the elderlies and monks.
The spraying of water symbolises the washing away of the earlier year’s sins and bad luck. On the New Year’s Day, all water throwing activities will cease. Instead, the day will be celebrated by releasing fishes and birds as an act of good merit. Meanwhile, special feasts are held just for the monks. On the other hand, traditional Thingyan snacks, fried noodles and free hot coffee are distributed to the public who join in the fun of the celebration.