A very important holiday has just finished in Myanmar. It’s the New Year water festival known as Thingyan. It is normally held between the 13th to the 16th of April every year. It’s the most important public holiday, like Christmas is for the US, but the festival is very different! At this time of year in Myanmar, the hot season has been going on for quite some time. A festival celebrating water is quite welcome.
Thingyan is also an important time for tea harvesters. Some of the best tea of the year is harvested during Thingyan season. This is the earliest time that new tea can be harvested from tea plants. Be on the lookout for 2015 shipments of our first flush teas coming into our shop after they’ve been processed!
There are three sides to the Thingyan festival. First, there is the Buddhist side. Myanmar is a devoutly Buddhist country. People take trips to monasteries to observe special practices and to give alms to monks. This is also a time to honor elders of the family.
The second side is the symbolism of the water. The sprinkling of water is meant to wash away the trouble of the old year, but many people go far beyond a sprinkling. If you don’t like getting wet do not come to Myanmar during Thingyan! You can hardly get down the street without water trucks, hoses, children with buckets, people wandering around with squirt guns, and many other people trying to get everyone else wet.
The third side is the party side. A party far more wild than any Mardi Gras kicks in all over the country. Myanmar is a very reserved country most of the time. During Thingyan, all that pent up energy gets released. Many cultural taboos are lifted.
Visiting during Thingyan is like joining a nation-wide water fight, especially in the major cities. If that’s the sort of thing you really like to do, then there’s nothing like it. Again, if you don’t like getting wet stay home during Thingyan! There are plenty of other festivals in Myanmar you enjoy that don’t involve constant soaking and rowdy behavior.