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IT'S WATER SPLASHING TIME
April is the hot month in Myanmar. It is high summer. But it is also a joyous time for all Myanmar people. It is the time of Myanmar New Year. Many people know about the Thai Water festival known as "Songkran" but few foreigners know about the Myanmar Thingyan. For the Myanmar people Thingyan is not only for splashing water on each other for fun. It has its own significance. The wash away all our misfortunes and miseries of the old year and enter the New Year with renewed energy and spirit.
Thingyan period is one of the most auspicious time for mist Myanmar families. Many hold religious ceremonies to send their young sons into the monkhood for gaining merit both for themselves and for their siblings too. If one goes to the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon during these times one will see many such novitiation ceremonies on the pagoda platform. The procession is led by an elder aunt or uncle holding a big round container with a green coconut, some eugenia leaves and three hands of bananas. This is an offering to the "nats"(the spiritual beings) . Then the young boy(or boys) that will be going into the monkhood all attaired in the splendid and sparkling costumes that are supposed to be worn by the celestial beings in heaven. Following them would be a bevy of beautiful girls each holding an item neede for the young boys during their stay in the monastery, including the yellow Holy Robes for the young novices. It is one of the most representative of the piety of the Myanmar people.
Another religious aspect of Myanmar Thingyan is to go to the elders' houses and wash their hairs or trim their nails. The Buddha Images kept in the family shrine at home are also cleaned and sprayed with scented water during this time. All these are done to gain merit. And even at the water throwing pandals there is merit making. Everybody joins in to prepare local Myanmar snacks to offer to all and everyone for free: in Myanmar language called "Satu ditha" or "Food for Everyone from all Four Corners of The Earth"
Monasteries are vrowded too at this time of the year. Many, including young people, go to monasteries to observe the Sabbath. They study the Buddhist Holy Texts, listen to the sermons delivered by the monks and meditate,
So it is not just water and fun and going around the city in decorated floats. Thingyan or the Myanmar New Year is the time of great religious significance for the Myanmar people.
Myanmar Thingyan normally occurs in the middle of April annually but because the Myanmar Thingyan is calculated according to the lunar calander it is best to enquire the exact dates ahead.