Thingyan means the changing of an old year to a new one, in other words Thingyan is Myanmars new year festival. It’s usually falls on the 13th of April and lasts about three or four days. The main feature of the festival is water throwing. Traditionally, Thingyan involved the sprinkling of scented water in a silver bowl using sprigs of thabyay leaves, a practice that continues to be prevalent in rural areas. The sprinkling of water was intended to metaphorically “wash away” one’s sins of the previous year. People around the country gather together and visits pagodas, give offerings and pay homage to the monks, they play traditional games like water throwing and celebrate in a joyous spirit.
By nightfall, the real fun begins with music, song and dance, merrymaking and general gaiety in anticipation of the water festival. In every neighbourhood pavilions and stages, with festive names are made from bamboo, wood and beautifully decorated papier mache decorations, you’ll notice these will spring up overnight.
On New Year’s Day, people visit the elders, pay obeisance and welcome in the New Year by cleaning the floors of the pagodas and monasteries, washing aged people’s hair, helping them cut their their nails etc. Many people make new year resolutions, generally undertaking deeds that will do their karma good. Releasing fish is another time-honoured tradition of this day; fish are rescued from lakes and rivers which have started drying up under the hot sun, they’re then kept in huge glazed earthen pots and jars before being released into larger lakes and rivers with the muttering of the prayer “I release you once, you release me ten times”. Some offer free food and drinks for everyone who visits the pagodas, some make other donations.
Some tips on how to enjoy water festival at one of the pandals:
There are many pandals on Pyay Road, Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, Kan Road and near Kan Daw Gyi Park. Tickets are already available and being sold near the pandals.
Recommended pandals are Channel V, GTR on the Street, BlackJack, Hitman and BlackPearl. Prices vary; they’re all very different in terms of style, theme, and atmosphere.
Slap on sunscreen with high UV protection.
Sunglasses are a good option as it prevents your eyes being splashed. – But dont choose your nicest pair as it’s very likely they’ll get lost or broken…
Wear flip flops, the stages get very slippery, and your feet will be drenched the instant you walk out your front door.
Take a waterproof bag, or plastic bags to put your phone and money in, as everything will get soaked.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thingyan festival! Be safe & sound and have fun!
Happy New Year!!!
by Khin Yadanar Bo