Thingyan Festival – The Traditional Water Festival in Myanmar

Last updated: August 10, 2021 / 2863 Views

Thingyan festival is the Burmese New Year Festival or sometimes called Water Festival because water throwing, water spraying, dousing on each other are the main activities during this festival. It usually falls in the third part of April (from 13th to 16th April). This is the most expected celebration of Burmese people & is a similar celebration as the Songkran in Laos, the Songkran in Thailand, the Cambodian New Year, the Sinhalese New Year, and the Bihu festival of Assam. When in Myanmar during this time, do not miss this traditional festival, and wish for the best luck during the year. 

The history of the Thingyan Water Festival in Myanmar dating back from a very long time ago originated from the Buddhist version of a Hindu myth. Thingyan, in the Sanskrit language (the language of ancient India), means “transit of the Sun from Pisces to Aries”. The legend said that the Thingyan Festival is an event to henceforth signify the changing hands of the Brahma’s head – a powerful deity that lost his head in a gamble with Devas.

Thingyan Festival

Performance in Thingyan Festival

 

Which activities to do during Thingyan Festival?

Thingyan Festival lasts from three to five days and each day has its own activities.

Day 1: Thingyan Eve

On this day, people go to temples and pagodas to observe the Buddhist relief, offer to monks, wash the Buddha image, and pray for their life. In the evening, people start to sing and dance in the neighbourhoods across the country.

 

Day 2: Water Fighting Festival

It is the day when Thagya Min who is considered the King of Nat makes his descent from heaven to the earth. It is time to pour out the street and collect the water with pots, buckets, or even water guns. The street is soaked in water. It is believed that water can fix mistakes, drive out bad luck and bring health, happiness. The more water you get; the better upcoming year you will have.

There is a break during the festival when you can grab food and take a rest for the next water fighting. Food stations for hungry revellers can be found everywhere. Some must-try dishes in this festival are Mont Lat Saung - Burmese traditional drink, Shwe-yin-aye & Mont-lat-saung - A favourite dessert of Burmese people, Mote Lone Yay Paw - A traditional sweet snack and Thingyan hta-min - Another special dish of Burmese.

Water fighting festival

Water fighting festival

 

Day 3

On the last day of the festival, Thagya Min returns home but some people still throw water on each other until late in the afternoon. Be careful if someone says ‘Thagya Min has returned for his pipe’. Just run as fast as you can.

 

Day 4: New Year’s Day

Today, young people do good things such as bathing elderly people, washing their hair, and cutting their nails as a sign of gratitude and respect. People also offer food to monks and bath statues of the Buddha. It is a custom to buy live fish and then release them in the open water of rivers or lakes on the last day of the Water Festival. People say ‘I release you once, you release me ten times’ when releasing captured fish into the water.

Anywhere. Almost every part of the country celebrates this festival. You can see it in the main cities like Inle Lake, Mandalay, Bagan, Yangon. However, the biggest celebrations are in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw. Wherever you see bamboo stages erected, people dancing, singing, live music, and water, it is the place where you can join the Water festival.

New year's day in Thingyan festival

New year's day in Thingyan festival

 

Do’s & Don’ts during Traditional Water Festival festival

Do’s

  • Wear proper clothes & shoes: Choose the clothes which are light or can be easily dry. You can wear a swimsuit instead of normal underwear. It can be very slippery on the street and you may need to run from the water, so choose the comfortable shoes for you.
  • Protect your belongings: Put your valuable things like money, phone in a waterproof bag. You can easily buy it on the street. Always put it in front of you so that you won’t be pickpocketed. You can leave your passport at the reception at your hotel to be safe.
  • Prepare water: Do not be shy. Grab a gun or a bucket to join the festival. You can throw water at anyone whether they are friends or strangers.

Don’ts

  • Don’t splash water at monks, elderly, pregnant women, young babies: They are people you should not splash water at. Do not forget to avoid people who wear white shirts and brown longyi as well.
  • Do not play water at the pagodas: It is not allowed to splash at the pagodas, where people come to pray and do go deeds peacefully. People walk barefoot and the floor can be wet and slippery.
  • Don’t wear clothes that show your skin too much: It is best if you don’t wear clothes that show too much skin because Myanmar people are quite conservative.
  • Do not drive and drink: It is because of the fact that there are a lot of people get drunk and many accidents occur during this time. It is highly recommended that you do not drink and drive when joining this festival.

Thingyan festival

No matter which nationality you have, joining the festival will be fun and you will be able to avoid the heat of the summer by soaking in the water. There is also a belief about a bring new year ahead. It is great if you can travel to Myanmar this time. Contact us to book your epic trip: Myanmar Tours & Travel

Jenny Tran

Image Source: Internet

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