All-out water war, Myanmar. butforthesky.com / Creative Commons
The five-day Thingyan festivities dominate the Myanmar festival calendar, offering a splashing good time for Myanma and tourists weary of the hot, dry season. Taking place in mid-April, Thingyan marks the lunar New Year with plenty of water splashed or poured by gleeful locals onto everyone within range!
The symbolic meaning of the water – the washing away of the previous year’s bad luck – seems secondary to the fun of splashing and getting splashed in broad daylight. Thingyan songs, special foods like a special sticky rice dumpling with a palm sugar center, and Thingyan dances called the “Yane” held at custom-built pavilions lighten the mood everywhere. On a more serious note, Myanma everywhere store up merit by releasing captive animals, visiting temples and paying respect to elders.
Thingyan is usually celebrated over four days from April 13 to 16. Make special preparations if visiting Myanmar during Thingyan, as flights and bus routes tend to be fully booked weeks before the celebration. Avoid traveling during Thingyan on short notice!
Thingyan Water festival in Myanmar. Theis Kofoed Hjorth / Creative Commons
Water battle, Thingyan, Yangon. butforthesky.com / Creative Commons
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The nations of Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar share close cultural ties, and thus also share common New Year traditions, occurring at the same time. Cambodia celebrates Angkor Sankranta; Thailand Songkran; and Laos Boun Pi Mai Lao near simultaneously with Thingyan .