Things to Do
This month is the hottest in the year, with low precipitation, so it’s better to do indoor rather than outdoor activities.
Hot as it is, there is a festival which could cool you down, Thingyan. The Burmese are extremely friendly and are genuinely happy to see foreigners visit. They appear to especially appreciate tourists taking part in their national festival. So, just join in and have fun!
Water Splashing Festival
Thingyan is essentially a celebration of the rice harvest, marking the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season. Traditionally, it falls in the middle of April, the driest time of the year. It lasts four days and ends with welcoming in the Burmese New Year.
The first three days comprise the Water Splashing Festival. During these days, people throw water at each other, since the people of Myanmar believe that Thingyan water has power to cleanse the evil and sins of the old year.
In Mandalay the streets are lined with 'water stations' and people wait for passers-by in order to drench them. Buckets, pots, bowls, water pistols and hoses are used to soak pedestrians.
Almost the whole population is in a happy mood; they roam around the city in cars or on foot, throwing and splashing water at each other. Tourists appear to be a prime target and their drenching generates a lot of laughter.
Official stages are set up in cities and towns all over the country; usually near the Irrawaddy River and lakes, to ensure a steady stream of water. Each stage has around a hundred hoses for paying guests to aim at the revelers dancing below and the steady stream of trucks slowly driving by.
Bands and DJs blare out music. Special Thingyan songs play all the time. Some pavilions have raised platforms for traditional dance performances.
1.Remember to put your belongings into waterproof bags when you join in this festival.
2. If you would like a totally crazy festival, you could possibly rent an open-topped truck armed with several barrels of water for joining in.
3. Remember to wear dark clothes.
Burmese New Year
The last day of Thingyan is Burmese New Year. On this day, people put on their new or best clothes, then assemble at the local Buddhist temples, such as Mahamuni Buddha Temple and Shwenandaw Monastery, where the monks chant Buddhist scriptures.
Afterwards, a symbolic water-splashing ritual is enacted whereby a Buddhist statue is brought out with pomp and ceremony. Water is then coaxed out of the temple into the courtyard. Finally, the statue is splashed with water. This important ritual is called 'Bathing the Buddha'.
In any case, it is a special time of year for all Burmese – an occasion of much playful fun and partying, but also a time for spiritual reflection. You shouldn’t miss it.