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Date(s) - 13/04/2018 - 16/04/2018
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Thingyan (Burmese: သင်္ကြန်;) is Myanmar’s New Year Water Festival and usually falls around mid-April (the Burmese month of Tagu). It is a Buddhist festival celebrated over a period of four to five days, culminating in the New Year. Formerly the dates of the Thingyan Festival were calculated according to the Burmese calendar but they are now fixed to Gregorian calendar 13 to 16 April. The dates of the festival are observed as the most important public holiday throughout Myanmar and are part of the summer holidays at the end of the school year. Water-throwing or dousing one another from any shape or form of vessel or device that delivers water is the distinguishing feature of this festival and may be done on the first four days of the festival. However, in most parts of the country, it does not begin in earnest until the second day.

The eve of Thingyan (April 12) is the first day of the festival called a-kyo nei (in Myanmar, အကြိုနေ့), is the start of a variety of religious activities. Buddhists are expected to observe the Eight Precepts, including having only one meal before noon. By nightfall, the real fun begins with music, song and dance, merrymaking and general gaiety in anticipation of the water festival. In every neighbourhood pavilions or stages, with festive names and made from bamboo, wood and beautifully decorated papier mache, have sprung up overnight.

The next day called a-kya nei (အကျနေ့) is when Thingyan truly arrives and the water festival begins. Traditionally, Thingyan involved the sprinkling of scented water in a silver bowl using sprigs of thabyay (Jambul), a practice that continues to be prevalent in rural areas. The sprinkling of water was intended to metaphorically “wash away” one’s sins of the previous year. In major cities such as Yangon, garden hoses, huge syringes made of bamboo, brass or plastic, water pistols and other devices from which water can be squirted are used in addition to the gentler bowls and cups, but water balloons and even fire hoses have been employed! It is the hottest time of the year and a good dousing is welcomed by most.

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