The Water Festival is the New Year’s celebrations that take place in Southeast Asian countries such as Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand as well as Yunnan, China. It is called the ‘Water Festival’ by Westerners because people splash / pour water at one another as part of the cleansing ritual to welcome the new year. Traditionally people gently sprinkled water on one another as a sign of respect, but as the New Year falls during the hottest month in South East Asia, many people end up dousing strangers and passersby in vehicles in boisterous celebration. The act of pouring water is also a show of blessings and good wishes. It is believed that on this Water Festival, everything old must be thrown away, or it will bring the owner bad luck.
The festival lasts for three days. The first two days’s activities are concentrated on the banks of the River. An out-door market is set up, where locals go for new year shopping. It is also a great place to purchase local souvenirs. Local food and snacks are other highlights traveler may not want to miss.
The completion of the ‘Bathing the Buddha’ ritual serves as the signal that encourages ordinary mortals to themselves engage in mutual water splashing. The festival has many different names specific to each country, such as Songkran in Laos and Thailand, Chaul Chnam Thmey in Cambodia, and Thingyan in Myanmar
The Water Splashing ceremony, however, is more than just good-natured fun; it also contains a religious element: water is a symbol, firstly, of religious purity, but also of goodwill among people. Therefore, splashing a fellow human being with water during the Water Splashing Festival, whether a close neighbor or a fellow villager, or even a stranger, is an expression of the desire for good luck and prosperity to that person.
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