Be prepared to get soaked as the Thingyan Water Festival comes to town, drenching everything in its path.
Thingyan is the Burmese New Year celebration, and it's always a wet one. With the firing of a cannon Burmese folk scramble to pour water onto the ground and murmur prayers, thereby washing away last year’s sins. This is a mere taste of what's to come. On the second day festivities are well and truly underway. Water is thrown by any means possible; water pistols, balloons and hoses are all fair game.
Garrisons of teenagers set up base camp by water stations (pandals), patrol trucks blasting pop music tow families in sunglasses that open fire on pedestrians and grinning men dump huge blocks of ice into brimming ammunition bins. Kids are in their element at this time of year having broken up from school to be unleashed on pedestrians with water pistols and tin cans. Get your electronics into sealed plastic bags, nice job if you have a dry bag.
The three to five day long Thingyan celebration concludes by welcoming in the new year and letting go of the old. Also celebrated is the descent of Thagyamin (a spiritual Buddhist figure) to earth whose backstory symbolises the origins of the Burmese calendar.
Religion is definitely at the heart of this festival and Thingyan eve sees Buddhists throughout Myanmar fasting, visiting temples to leave offerings and washing Buddha statues with sacred water. In many regards it’s similar to Thailand's now tourist ridden Songkran, minus the foreigners.
The best way to celebrate Thingyan is to jump right in. Only the elderly and monks are exempt from being doused with water, so get ready to soak up some culture and get absolutely drenched if you're planning to (water) drop by.
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