The Thingyan Festival (Water Festival) in Myanmar

Every year, during the month of Thingyan (1st month of the year in the Burmese calendar), from 12-13 to 16 April in our calendar, the whole of Myanmar celebrates the “Water Festival” to mark the Buddhist New Year. While the temperature is at its peak, the Burmese throw water over each other in the streets which are especially cleaned for this annual event.

According to legend, at the beginning of the year, Thagyamin, the king of the “nat” spirits visits the earth on a golden, winged horse and carries a jar of water, symbolizing peace and prosperity to bless the people. He also has two books: one covered in gold that contains the names of the children who have been good during the year and the other covered in dog skins for those who have been naughty. Everyone gets wet!


Water purifies and chases away evil spirits from everybody who gets wet and brings peace, prosperity and happiness for the coming year. People also place flowers and palm leaves on the threshold of their home to mark the occasion. In the cities, young people use hoses to spray people and in railway stations, large buckets of water are thrown over train travelers. Water is even poured on the images of the Buddha and monks during the long processions as they progress towards the Shwedagon Pagoda.


During the festival the elderly are honored and children take flowers to their grandparents. It is also one of the few popular times when people are allowed to get together in large numbers. For several days, life is suspended and everything is closed: shops, restaurants and local transport.

So enjoy the festival!

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