Holidays New Year's Top

Thingyan, a Buddhist New Year festival, is all about water

Children having fun at Myanmar's Thingyan celebration. (Yunn Chaw Nadi/YJI)

Myawlamyine, Myanmar – Thingyan, the New Year festival of Myanmar, has recently drawn to a close, leaving behind the fragrance of Padauk flowers and memories of celebrations.

The mid-April festival lasted four days, and people made the most of it by celebrating in ways of their own. 

Sticky rice balls topped with coconut, called Mont Lone Yay Paw, are a beloved seasonal dessert enjoyed during Thingyan. (Yunn Chaw Nadi/YJI)

My grandmother went on a meditation retreat at a local monastery, as she does every Thingyan; my cousins took part in the famous water fights on the streets; my uncle smeared Thanaka paste on passersby’s faces; and my aunts handed out the beloved Thingyan dessert, Mont Lone Yay Paw, to everyone who walked by the house. 

The signature act of Thingyan, splashing water at each other, symbolizes washing away all the old sins and entering the new year with a clean body and soul. 

Min Shwe Pyae, my 7-year-old cousin, was very stoked about this Thingyan, and he had a blast splashing water at people with the water gun he bought himself with the pocket money he saved up before the holiday. 

Min Shwe Pyae on the third day of Thyingyan. (Yunn Chaw Nadi/YJI)

Most of Shwe Pyae’s excitement also came from the fact that this year is the first in a long time that he has had the chance to properly celebrate Thingyan.

The previous four years’ Thingyan days were rather quiet, and very few people went out on the street to celebrate because of the pandemic and political unrest following the coup.

Myawlamyine, my hometown, is known for always celebrating the festival one more day than most of the other regions of Myanmar. Even more so, the last additional day, which is the first day of the New Year, is often the most exuberant day, with the busiest water arenas in town. 

People come to Mahar Baho Arena in Mawlamyine to see individual and group performances in the evenings during Thingyan. (Yunn Chaw Nadi/YJI)
Point of view: passing a water arena. (Yunn Chaw Nadi/YJI)
A water arena called Golden Padauk Town at Strand Road during Thingyan. (Yunn Chaw Nadi/YJI)

Though this year’s Thingyan was not as vibrant as it used to be in 2019 and prior, it was celebrated more cheerfully compared to the last four years. 

Neighbors came together to build communal water arenas at Strand Road. (Yunn Chaw Nadi/YJI)

People welcomed the new year by committing good deeds such as offering alms and offerings to the Buddha and monks, freeing birds and fish, washing the elderly’s heads with traditional shampoo, and so on on the first day of the year.

As we have entered the Burmese New Year of 1386, Myanmar people wish an auspicious year filled with blessings and peace for everyone.

Yunn Chaw Nadi is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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