Friday, 8 April 2016

IRRI Myanmar office celebrated the Myanmar’s Thingyan Water Festival

The IRRI Myanmar office celebrated the Myanmar Thingyan Water Festival on April 6, 2016.  Colleagues at the IRRI Myanmar office observed the event from 5PM to 7PM with sumptuous food, dance and playful pouring of water at each other.

The festival takes place toward the end of the hot, dry season and ushers in the Myanmar New Year. This festival is also celebrated in Southeast Asian countries such as Myanmar,   Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand as well as Yunnan, China, Songkran in Thailand and Laos, Chaul Chnam Thmey in Cambodia.

The festival lasts three or five days in April every year. It is called the 'Water Festival' by Westerners because people splash / pour water at one another as part of the cleansing ritual to welcome the New Year. Traditionally people gently sprinkled water on one another as a sign of respect, but as the New Year falls during the hottest month in South East Asia, many people end up dousing strangers and passersby in vehicles in boisterous celebration. 

While standing on bamboo stages erected along the streets, people splash water on passersby. Powerful water pipes douse people driving by in jeeps and trucks.

Children use water pistols to drench their friends, relatives, and anyone else in range - only monks, pregnant women and the elderly are safe.

The act of pouring water is also a show of blessings and good wishes. The water symbolizes the washing away of the previous year's bad luck and sins. It is believed that on this Water Festival, everything old must be thrown away, or it will bring the owner bad luck.

On New Year's Day (normally on April 17) itself all the water-throwing ends. This day is celebrated by releasing captive fish and birds as acts of merit, and special feasts are held for monks.

HRS Workplace Communications Article No. 2016-013

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