Festivals are one of the most awaited time of the year for many people around the world and even if you have different belief there would always be a festive that would jive with you. For the people of country called Burma, a festival called Thingyan is amongst the festivals that Burmese people are waiting for to celebrate. Thingyan is from a Sanskrit word “sankranti”, which means “Changing of phase of the Sun (From Pisces to Aries)”. This festival is one they considered to be their New Year, which is according to the Burmese Calendar, and commonly falls on the month of April that has a span of four to five days. This festival is much like the idea of Chinese calendar since it is not the usual New Year festival held in the world as it based on different calendar. Among the region where the country of Burma lies there are festivals nearby which can be correlated, such as those of Thai’s and their Songkran and for those in Laos, also the Cambodian and Sinhalese New year.
According to some account, the historical basis for the Thingyan is from the Buddhist account of a Hindu myth about the King of Brahmas named Arsi, which was lost to a wager to another king who called Sakra (Thangya Min), the King of Devas. The King of Devas, Sakra decapitated Arsi, in which a head of an elephant was used to replace to the body of the Brahma’s body which turned into Ganesha. Meanwhile, the head of the King of the Brahma contains so much energy and power that it can bring drought if tossed in the sea, and when left on ground can bring curse to the land as well as in the sky can burst down to flames. For this reason, King Sakra created a rule that once in a year a princess devi shall hold the head of Brahma. And these marks the beginning of the Thingyan festival as it signifies the change and passing of the Brahma’s head to another princess. In celebration of the festival, the Thingyan Eve as the first day of the celebration of festival is also called a-kyo nei, is the signal where various religious practice shall be taken into action. Buddhists are shown to do the Eight precepts or like a fasting if compare on Christian/Muslim beliefs. Also, Uposatha is much more also alike to Christian Sabbath practice. In this day too, offerings are placed before in monasteries or temples. And by the night comes the true colour of the festival shall takes place as the lively music, song and dance can be seen performed in many place in the city. The next day is called a-kya nei or the Water Festival. In this part of the festival, as soon as the people heard a signal a canon is fired to mark another chapter of the day then people gets into street coming out with pots of water and pour it into ground and offer a prayer. And lastly, is the New Year’s Day in which a certain practice is done in particular. The elder people are visited by the young one and perform the gadaw or called Shiho. Along with the visit to the old ones, those who are in young age clean the hair of the elders in a traditional method using shampoo beans and bark.
To summarize the event of Thingyan Festival, it is a deep rooted cultural event that people of Burma have treasured and shall be passed down in generations. This kind of festival might not be celebrated around the world but for them it is an important one as it signifies a big part of their religious belief.