YANGON, Myanmar – Yangon residents made a splash on the first day of Myanmar’s New Year festival on Friday with revelers taking to the streets for water fights and entertainment.
Thingyan is celebrated by the splashing of water and throwing of powder as symbols of cleansing and to wash away sins of the past year. Similar festivals are also celebrated in other Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.
The country’s largest city came alive on Friday morning with opening performances by dancers of all ages wearing traditional “longyi” of bright colors representing different tribal groups. The women wore their hair in high buns decorated with flowers.
Splashing cooled people down on residential streets as well as along the popular hotspots of Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, Pyay Road, Kandawgyi Park and in downtown Yangon, an epa reporter said.
Many of the parties and entertainment run from morning into the night with singing, dancing, DJs, and food and drinks at “pandals,” or stages, dotted around town.
Another performance feature is traditional chanting called “thangyat,” which consists of a chorus led by a main singer.
The chants, often humorous and satirical, have been part of Myanmar’s rich folk culture for centuries, starting with Myanmar’s monarchical period, surviving the colonial era and arguably peaking during the country’s short fling with post-independence democracy under Prime Minister U Nu, who encouraged thangyat competitions, the epa reporter said.
While some people go on vacation, to a meditation center or home to visit their families during the holiday, many also visit pagodas and monasteries.
Most businesses are closed during the four-day celebration.
The festival ends on Monday.