Imagine a four-day rain dance, for more than 50 million people, spread over 676 thousand square kilometers, every year! Welcome to the biggest celebration in MyanmarThingyan, the Burmese new year.

It is assumed that Water Festival of Myanmar has it’s origins in the harvest celebration of Holi in India. According to the Burmese, splashing of water cleanses away sins and gives a fresh start to a new year.

This festival is a time for good deeds and goodwill, but also a spot of fun! Since it’s usually the hottest month (April) in Myanmar, no one seems to mind! The unsuspecting tourist is often surprised to see the immense enthusiasm with which the polite and soft-spoken Burmese celebrate Thingyan.

The Water Festival of Myanmar will be held between 18 to 21 April 2017.

What To Expect During Thingyan Water Festival?

Day 1: The festival begins with various religious rituals – alms are offered to the monks, followed by song and dance routines in the evening. You will see many a float with orchestras and bands of young men making rounds and singing classical Thingyan songs rather enthusiastically!

Day 2: This is a day when water pistols, pipes and buckets really come in handy. People start by throwing pots full of water onto the ground and praying. This is a celebration of the Burmese deity Thagya Min’s descent to earth and Brahmins make prophecies for the new year.

Thingyan: What to see at the Water Festival of Myanmar
It’s in Yangon that the truly enthusiastic congregate.

The streets are filled with temporary bamboo stages called ‘mandats’, erected mostly by the rich and powerful. Food stations for the hungry revelers can be found everywhere. People start dousing each other in water, children use water pistols, there is music and dancing, and passers-by are hosed down with glee.

No one is safe from the fun!

Day 3: On the last day of the festival, Thagya Min returns home but some pranksters can still be found throwing water on each other until late in the afternoon. A word of caution – if someone tells you ‘Thagya Min has returned for his pipe’, make a run for it!

Day 4: New Year’s Day is one of quiet reflection. You can witness the Burmese washing the hair of their elders, offering food to monks, and bathing statues of the Buddha. People release captured fish into larger water bodies and say, ‘I release you once, you release me ten times’.

This is also the time for Shinbyu when young boys are initiated into the order of Theravada Buddhism.

Thingyan: What to see at the Water Festival of Myanmar

Best Places To Visit For The Myanmar Water Festival?

Kandawgyi Pet in Yangon is best known for its water stations, dance floors, food stalls and music. Do take a look at the city parade by the Kandawgyi Lake and Kabaraye road as well.

To see a more traditional side of Thingyan, take a trishaw ride through Dala on the other side of the Irrawaddy from Yangon – a ferry will take you here.

In Mandalay, the Rakhine people celebrate in their own traditional way – water is scooped up from a long boat and thrown at revelers.

Thingyan: What To See At The Water Festival Of Myanmar
U Bein Bridge At Sunset, Mandalay, Myanmar

If the Water Festival of Myanmar is not up your alley, take a breather at Ngapali Beach. You’ll find a lot of locals trying to escape the celebrations and it’s a good idea to book everything in advance.

Thingyan: What to see at the Water Festival of Myanmar

A word of caution: Finding transportation during the festival week can be a bit of a challenge. Also, be careful with your electronic gadgets – that camera will not survive!

Traditional Dishes To Try During The Water Festival of Myanmar

1. Mont lone yei baw – Glutinous rice balls served with jaggery syrup. The balls are thrown into boiling water and served as soon as they resurface. Delicious!

2. Mont let saung – Made of sticky rice and roasted sesame seeds, this dish is served with jaggery syrup, coconut milk. and a side of grated coconut.

3. Mohinga – One of the most popular dishes in Myanmar. Rice noodles in fish paste are served with fish soup, fried onions, coriander and a variety of other fresh ingredients.

Thingyan: What to see at the Water Festival of Myanmar
Burmese Mohinga


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