On the eve of Thingyan, just about eve Myanmar household
prepares an earthen pot filled with seven flowers representing
seven days of the week, and places it in front of the house to
welcome the descending Heavenly King. The period of Thingyan is
determined by the length of his stay, i.e. the day of his descent,
an intervening day (or two days in some years) and the day of
For centuries Burmese have been celebrating Thingyan by dousing
each other liberally with water. Water which symbolises cleanness,
is supposed to wash off the impurities of the old year while,
at the same time, serving as a welcome coolant amid summer heat
and humidity. In the old days, the proper-custom was to carry
the scented water in silver bowls and sprinkle each other gently
using sprigs and eugenia.
Buckets and hoses may have largely replaced the silver bowls today,
but the spirit remains the same. During Thingyan, revellers throng
the main streets of Myanmar's cities. Here and there, beautifully
decorated pavilions and stands are erected for water dousing and
Hydrants, which have been carefully serviced over the preceding
few weeks, are at their full power to supply hoses aimed at merrymakers.
Sprays of water and shouts of Thingyan good wishes seem to fill
the air. No one escapes. In fact, everyone is anxious to drench
and get drenched as dousing is considered an act of compliment.
ORIGINALLY NOT A BUDDHIST FESTIVAL
In recent years, an increasing number of foreigners,
including tourists, businessmen and members of the diplomatic
community, take part in the merriment with utmost enthusiasm.Although
Thingyan days are public holidays, most hotels, restaurants and
shops stay open to cater to the revellers. Apart from the dousing,
it is also a Thingyan custom to set up marquees for offering food
to one and all. A typical Thingyan delicacy is Montloneyebor,
which can be translated loosely as "floating dough balls,"
They are dumplings made of glutinous rice stuffed with brown sugar
and served with grated coconut. Thingyan, like some other festivities
celebrated in Myanmar, is not of Buddhist origin, but comes from
traditional beliefs and customs. But as Burmese became devout
Buddhists many centuries ago, they were no longer satisfied with
treating it purely as an occasion for merry-making and amusement,
and began to seek spiritual merits in it in the Buddhist context.