Friday, August 7, 2015

Myanmar's Thingyan Water Festival

Thingyan Water Festival Myanmar

If you’re thin-skinned, huffy, touchy or hypersensitive then you should never ever go to Thingyan Water Festival in Myanmar. For four days, we were drenched, soaked, doused and extinguished with huge amounts of water. All of our sins faded in an instant, in just one splash. This is the best festival I’ve been to ever in my life!

When me and my buddy were plotting our itineraries, it was like, I wanna spend a week here or Let’s skip this place and so on. With no idea on what to expect on each country, our two-month backpacking trip around Southeast Asia went as planned, until we arrived in Myanmar.

Thingyan Water Festival Myanmar
One of the water-spraying stations in Mandalay
Thingyan in Myanmar, Songkran in Laos and Thailand, Bengali in Bangladesh, Singhalese in Sri Lanka, Chaul Chnam Thmey in Cambodia, and more; you’d want to be in those countries during this most celebrated Buddhist festival, I’m sure. We’re lucky enough to have experienced the whole shindig while we’re in Myanmar (check here for discounted tours, transportation and activities in Yangon).

Thingyan Water Festival Myanmar
Party on!
Arriving on the 13th of April 2015, we’re already warned that it was the start of the Thingyan (Water) Festival in the country thus; shops, restaurants, and establishments are closed for business, only few transportations are available (a major problem), and be ready to get wet for four days. With this in mind, we thought we're ready for all of this.

Thingyan Water Festival Myanmar Train
No, you cannot escape them, even if you're inside the local train
Thingyan Water Festival Myanmar
Get drenched from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
With no concrete plans, and with confirmed hotel booking at Sule Shangri-La Hotel (which we didn’t get to enjoy), we arrived at Yangon on the first day of Thingyan. Luck or no luck, we got nothing to do but endure everything; from re-arranged hotel accommodations to unplanned city transfers due to limited transportation.

Thingyan Water Festival Myanmar
Our cabbie was so ready
Thingyan is widely celebrated in Myanmar (read:weeklong holiday celebration all throughout the country). Besides the Buddhists' religious activities, the crazy water fest is the highlight of it all. Traditionally, the sprinkling of scented water in a silver bowl represents the washing away of sins of the previous year. The modern-day celebrations are quite different though, but still, they share the same idea of gatting cleansed.

Thingyan Water Festival Myanmar
Go ahead, aim some more at me
Now, bucketsful of water, water pistols, garden hoses, fire hoses and other means to shower water to other people are employed. Huge crowds on foot, motorcycles, jeeps and trucks usually roam around the city to either throw out some water or be thrown upon. Loud music, festive mood and booze are everywhere. In those four days, Burmese people just let it all out and party all day, for four days (just four days, what about for the rest of the year? I really don't know). There are exceptions and restrictions on the serious water throwing though; monks, pregnant women, and old ones are exempted, plus the water splashing should strictly start at nine in the morning and should end at around six in the evening.

Thingyan Water Festival Myanmar Beer
Lunch break
Thingyan Water Festival Myanmar
Oh come on...
We’re so fortunate to experience the festivities in three major cities (Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan) and even during our two train rides across the country. It was the hottest time of the year and we’re drenched for four days; April 13 in Yangon, April 14 in Mandalay, and April 15-16 in Bagan. April 17 was the Burmese New Year which was creepingly quiet though. Everyone shifted into their serious mode. Garbed with their best traditional outfits, they visit temples to give their offerings, I kinda miss being wet and the whole party vibe.

Thingyan Water Festival Myanmar
Got wet in Yangon... Waterproofed in Mandalay and Bagan...
So prepare to get wet and check out the best festival in the world!

Yangon

Thingyan Water Festival Yangon Myanmar
They really wanna get wet
Thingyan Water Festival Yangon Myanmar
First day swell
Thingyan Water Festival Yangon Myanmar
Let's go kids
Thingyan Water Festival Yangon Myanmar
Scream if you may, but you ain't excused
Thingyan Water Festival Yangon Myanmar
Yangon's main stage
Thingyan Water Festival Yangon Myanmar
You'd want to be here, I know
Thingyan Water Festival Yangon Myanmar
Long sleeves and longyi
Mandalay

Thingyan Water Festival Mandalay Myanmar

Thingyan Water Festival Mandalay Myanmar
Burmese people just let it all out, for four days
Thingyan Water Festival Mandalay Myanmar
Pick-ups, trucks, jeeps
Thingyan Water Festival Mandalay Myanmar
Just queue, if you want it wet
Thingyan Water Festival Mandalay Myanmar
When the music pumped up...
Thingyan Water Festival Mandalay Myanmar
And up...
Thingyan Water Festival Mandalay Myanmar
Thanks for the hitch Mike, our newfound friend in Mandalay
Thingyan Water Festival Mandalay Myanmar

Bagan

Thingyan Water Festival Bagan Myanmar
Hey, you look like Myanmar people...
Ohhh...
Thingyan Water Festival Bagan Myanmar
Free booze... Free dance...
Thingyan Water Festival Bagan Myanmar
Baby monks
Thingyan Water Festival Bagan Myanmar
Sapul
Thingyan Water Festival Bagan Myanmar
Family Affair
Thingyan Water Festival Bagan Myanmar
Free food # 1: Mohinga
Rice noodles with fish soup and other fresh ingredients
Thingyan Water Festival Bagan Myanmar
Free food # 2 : Mont - lone - yay - paw
Glutinous rice balls with filled jaggery syrup centers and shaved coconut
Thingyan Water Festival Bagan Myanmar
Yes... you!
Amongst all of the cities, my favorite party place was Mandalay. We met a lovely family taht hitched us to enjoy the tumultuous crowd, deafening party music and the over-the-top water dousing. So mark your calendars and plan your itineraries very well for next year's Thingyan Water Festival, you should be in Myanmar to check it out!

Thingyan Water Festival Bagan Myanmar
It's my turn!
Carla... Sino'ng mauunang maligo sa'tin?
Ha? 'Di ako maliligo ng isang buwan. Quota na 'ko sa shower!





2 comments:

  1. ang saya nito basaan hehehe malas mo nga lang kng endi ka handa napadaan ka lang wala ka pamalit hehehe :) di ko pa natry kahit yung feast of San Juan

    ReplyDelete