The origin of Thingyan

11 April 2019

Thingyan can be regarded as the most cheerful and celebrated festival in Myanmar. It is the festival for young to old, for any religions, and for any social status.               

Thingyan provides the longest holiday in Myanmar. Usually, it takes place in the month of April. It is the month, when Padauk flower blossoms all across Myanmar. Thus, Padauk flower basically represents the national flower of the country, Myanmar.

So, where is it coming from, basically? Is it the true tradition and custom of Myanmar people?

Being modified over many years, Thingyan is an imported cultural event. It first began in India, where it features one of the cultural events. So, Thingyan concept was brought to Myanmar by Indian Brahmins.

According to records, Thigyan kicked off in the 13th century, when Bagan era was existing. The King  of Bagan, Nara Thiha Patae felt like he wanted to play water with one of his wives and then he gave order the maid ladies to splash water at the wife to soak. The wife got mad at the king when she found out that it was the king who actually made her soak and wet. She took his behavior as the act of humiliation. So, she revenged the king by assassination against the king.  

Now, Thingyan is celebrated for four days before the Myanmar New Year Day. This year 2019, the official Thingyan public holiday begins on April 13 and it will go until April 17, when the first day of Myanmar New Year takes over. In Myanmar, each Thingyan break is called Akyo, Akya, Akyat, Atat and Nit San Tayet.

During festival, people will throw water each other with the belief washing away all the sins from the old year and people are welcoming the New Year with good spirit and clean mind. People are doing good deeds to welcome the New Year.

The similar culture like Thingyan can be found countries from all across Asia. To give you an example, in Thailand, it is called Songkran. In 2019, the holiday will be observed 12–16 April as 13 April falls on a Saturday. Now, let’s hear how a student in Bangkok will enjoy his holiday.

In China, Dai ethnic people also celebrate the water festival in Yunnan province. Now, let’s find out the detail from my friend in China. The Water-sprinkling festival is a traditional festival of the Dai nationality marking the Lunar New Year. The Dai are an ethnic minority of China who primarily live in the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture and Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture in southern Yunnan.

We have also a student from Hong Kong. Let’s find out how he will be experiencing his Thingyan in Hong Kong. “Hello, Myanmar. Greeting from Hong Kong. My name is Sut Seng Du and I am studying at Hong Kong Baptist University. Originally, I am from the Kachin State, Myanmar.”

“Water festival is just around the corner. I feel so excited about it .But, there are only two students from Myanmar, currently studying in my university. So, we don’t have a special activity to celebrate.”

“However, Thingyan means a lot to me because it is the time to go bible camp, being a Christian. I wish I could come back and celebrate Thingyan festival with friends and families. Happy Myanmar New Year, Everyone.”

LOOM