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Washing away bad deeds: water festival in Burma

(Mizzima) – Construction workers are now erecting Rangoon’s biggest Thingyan water-throwing site which opens on Thursday, as the country celebrates a five-day rite of Spring and New Year’s.

    Vehicles pass along a Rangoon water festival area last year. Photo: Mizzima
Songs and music can already be heard in the city. Traditionally, the festival is held on the eve of the Burmese New Year to cleanse the bad deeds of the previous year with water. Young people go out to enjoy themselves and elders retreat to monasteries and pagoda precincts.

The open-air Rangoon Mayor's water-throwing site, which will be the central and the biggest in the city, is accompanied by 44 others including those installed by ethnic businessmen and companies in the municipal area of Rangoon. New Year Day ushers in on April 17, according to the Burmese lunar calendar for the coming new year.

Traditional song and dance performances will be staged during the festival, and special trains will run to facilitate the crowds traveling to all parts of the country.

In Naypyitaw, water-throwing and entertainment stages are set up around the hotel zones with the main site City hall.

As usual, Mandalay will have the most water throwing-sites and stages around the canal of the Royal Palace.

Among Burma’s 12 seasonal festivals, the Thingyan water festival represents the most elaborate and signifies peace and prosperity to the entire people.

The water festival is celebrated in slightly different styles across the country, according to ethnic areas. In the Rakhine water festival, young men and women stand face to face and drench each other with water from long boats.

Thingyan is a Buddhist festival culminating in the new year. The dates of the festival are observed as the most important public holiday throughout Burma and are part of the summer holidays at the end of the school year.

Water-throwing or dousing one another from any shape or form of vessel or device that delivers water is the distinguishing feature of the celebrations.

Thingyan is comparable to other new year festivities in Theravada Buddhist areas of Southeast Asia such as Lao New Year, Cambodian New Year and songkran in Thailand.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 10 April 2012 18:40 )  

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