Thingyan

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Thingyan is the Burmese New Year Water Festival and usually falls around mid-April.This Mekong Water Festival includes four countries: Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos. The celebration is called Songkran in Thailand, Chaul Chnam Thmey in Cambodia, Thingyan in Myanmar and Pimai in Laos.

During this festival, all Myanmar people will take part in the water festival in the hope of washing sins and welcoming New Year. The oldest recorded history of the celebration of Thingyan was in the 13th century. According to historical accounts, the King of Bagan Nara ThihaPathae instructed the royal ladies to throw water at one of his wives adhering to what was then known as the popular tradition during the celebration of the Thingyan. Considering that the celebration was new only a few people knew that throwing water at one another is part of the celebration, the wife, feeling that she was humiliated, planned to assassinate the king. The King found out about his mistress’ plans and immediately executed her along with her families and relatives by burning them at stake.

Besides the usual water throwing, people also travel back to their villages, visit their parents and spend the rest of the festival there. Hair washing using the traditional shampoo bean called Acacia rugata is popular.

Because this festival takes place in the hottest season in Myanmar, it has become a tradition to rescue the fishes inhabit this area and are transferred to larger lakes. Before releasing the captured fishes, a prayer says:” I release you once, you release me ten times”.

Many people also think that doing good deeds during the event is to add up to good karma. Thus they often visit temples and Buddhists, spend a short time with the monks and listen to the traditional teachings of Buddha.

Some of the traditional food during this time is the rice balls called “montlounyeibaw” filled with palm sugar inside. It is cooked by throwing the rice balls in a container with boiling water and taken out of the container when they finally surfaced.

Another popular food is the ‘Mont let saung’ made with sweet syrup and coconut milk and served with grated coconut meat and sesame seeds on top.

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