THINGYAN FESTIVAL (MYANMAR NEW YEAR WATER FESTIVAL 2007)
This festival is known as Myanmar’s Traditional New Year Festival or the Water Festival. Every Myanmar citizen is happy on this day and month. There are twelve months in Myanmar calendar too. The first month of each year is calculated from April and the last one is March.
According to Myanmar calendar, New Year Day falls on every second week of April. There’s a tradition to celebrate the water festival all over the country for 3 days before New Year day by throwing water on each other. Thingyan usually starts on 13th April and finishes on 16th April. The 17th April is Myanmar New Year Day. According to the proofs and references, this sort of water festival has been celebrated in Myanmar since 500 years ago. Thingyan Festival is celebrated all over the country. The celebration style is a little different from each city. In Myanmar this festival is called ‘Thingyan’ means “moving from one year to another”. It is quite puzzling why people throw water on one another during Thingyan Festival.
According to the ancient tradition of Myanmar, they have committed sins the whole year. There is also a belief that these sins could be washed away and purified both in mind and spirit by throwing one another with Thingyan Water. Thus everyone is happy with a belief that they would be completely innocent after they are purified physically and spiritually in the next year. Besides, April is the hottest dry season in the year. Therefore throwing buckets of cold water can relieve the heat of the hot summer.
In cities temporary stages called pandal (from the Tamil pendel) are erected along main thoroughfares. Each pandal is sponsored by civic group, neighborhood associations, student societies or government departments, the members of whom stand next to rows of water barrels and douse every person or vehicle that passes by. On the other hand, there can be seen Traditional Myanmar Thingyan Dance performed in the big stages.
On a spiritual level, the Burmese believe that during this three-day period the king of the nats. Thagyamin, visit the human world to tally his annual record of the good deeds and misdeeds humans have performed. Villages place flowers and sacred leaves in front of their homes to welcome the god. Thagyamin's departure on the morning of the third day marks the beginning of the New year.
As a meritorious deed, some youngsters wash the hair of old people and them too. Moreover, there’s also a custom to buy live fish and cows and let them loose in sanctuaries or rivers or lakes on the final day of Thingyan Ah-Tet Day (the final day of Thingyan). This is a custom that concerns Myanma religion. Most of the Myanmars believe in Theravada Buddhism and so killing any living creature is a sinful act.
Myanmars will throw water on both Myanmar citizens as well as tourists who visit Myanmar during this festival with an intention to purify their mind and spirit. If you are here at this time, you’ll feel this atmosphere.
During the water festival, the temperature becomes over 40 degrees C and wet clothing will be dried in short time. The suitable clothing for water festival requires a hat, half shirt, jeans, rubber sandal, towel and etc. In case you bring a camera or video you are required to prepare transparent plastic bag to protect it from the splashing water.
May you be able to visit Myanmar then and all your sins be purified with Thingyan Water.