Monday, April 6, 2015

Happy Myanmar New Year and Celebrate Thingyan Water Festival


In exactly less than a week from now, the people of Myanmar will be celebrating their New Year, also known as Thingyan. It is believed that the word Thingyan was derived from the Sanskrit word, Thinkanta, or Sinkanta. It is the most important holiday throughout Myanmar. The festival is similar to Songkran in the neighbour country of Thailand. This year, Thingyan will be celebrated from 13 April to 17 April. It is the longest public holiday in Myanmar.

In the olden days, the people of Myanmar celebrated Thingyan by sprinkling the elderly such as parents and teachers with scented water using the sprouts of ‘thapyay’ (the leaves from Eugenia tree). These days, water is sprayed, splashed or doused to one another in public, regardless they are friends or family members. Do not take offence if you get splashed by strangers while walking down the streets in Myanmar during Thingyan, even if you are just observing. The Burmese people believed that the act of splashing water is a show of blessings and good wishes. Other activities include partying on the street and ‘mandat’ (stage), street parade on floats and sharing of home cooked food and drinks outside of their house to neighbours and revellers.

According to the Encyclopedia, Thingyan is linked to the Hindu tradition in which people splashed each other with specially prepared red liquid during the transition to a new year. Another source had it that, around the 10th century, the royalty in Bagan era carry out holding hair-washing rituals, called Thingyantaw. The purpose was to cleanse and purify their bodies, minds and spirits for the new year. For a proper royal rinse, a special water mix would be concocted, it included coconut water, water from the well, pond, lake, river, mountain, rain and melted snow, water that jewels have been dipped in and sometimes water from neighbouring countries will be added. This water concoction must then be added to another scented medicinal mixture which contains 28 herbal ingredients.

It is no doubt that the Water Festival has evolved over time. These days, it is a huge street trance party, far from it's royal beginning. As the festival deviates from its traditional root to a modern day event, there are more and more locals who look forward to take advantage of this long holiday period to focus on strengthening their spiritual belief by checking-in to meditation centers across the country. Others volunteer their time in religious group activities such as cleaning of the pagodas, monasteries and Buddha statues.

All the same, the team from Scapetour wish everyone a safe and Happy Thingyan. Play well and meditate well. In the spirit of Thingyan, let the bad luck from the last year be washed away and welcome the best in the new year!

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