Contributed By : Chan ShiJie
A very Asian Based Festival known as Water Festival which westerners literally translates it. This Festival can be found mainly in south east Asian countries but however it may varies in the individual countries.
Countries that celebrate the water festival are as Follows :
1. Yunnan of China By the Dai Ethnic minority known as Pou Shui Jie
2. Myanmar / Burma known as Thingyan
3. Thailand / Siam known as Songkran
4. Laos known known as Pi-Mai
5. Cambodia known as Bonn Om Touk
6. Singapore : SIWF (Singapore International Water Festival)
The Dates of this water festival in the Year of 2011 for :
China, 14-16 April
Myanmar, 13-17 April
Thailand , 11-18 April
Laos, 13-15 April
Cambodia, 10-12 November
Singapore, 01 July
During this 3 days of festival, Blessings is being received by splashing water at each other. Besides Splashing of water at each other like nobody's business, there are interesting activities that can be taken part such as dragon boat matches , a lot of Singing and Dancing as well. A very merry making festival indeed.
The 3 days of celebrations is very rich and experiencing. It more than just about receiving blessings by splashing water or just mere merry making alone. It is also at the same time about romance as well too !
Local belles have been rehearsing for weeks and even years, in the run-up to the great event in song and dance in chorus lines, each band of girls uniformly dressed in colourful tops and skirts and garlanded in flowers and tinsel. They wear fragrant thanaka - a paste of the ground bark of Murraya paniculata which acts as both sunblock and astringent - on their faces, and sweet-scented yellow padauk blossoms in their hair. The padauk (Pterocarpus macrocarpus) blooms but one day each year during Thingyan and is popularly known as the "Thingyan flower".
Large crowds of revelers, on foot, bicycles and motorbikes, and in open top jeeps and trucks, will do the rounds of all the mandats, some making their own music and most of the womenfolk wearing thanaka and padauk. Floats, gaily decorated and lit up, also with festive names and carrying an orchestra as well as dozens of amorous young men on each of them, will roam the streets stopping at every mandat exchanging songs specially written for the festival including the Thingyan classics that everyone knows, and performing than gyat
It is indeed a time for letting go, a major safety valve for stress and simmering discontent. Generally however friendliness and goodwill prevail along with some boisterous jollity.
Typically, the water festival is known as Songkran in Thailand. People will roam the streets with containers of water or water guns or post themselves at the side of roads with a garden hose and drench each other and passersby. However, the main activity is more than just this. It is also about visiting and pay respects to elders, including family members, friends, neighbors, and monks.
Lao New Year is the most widely celebrated festival in Laos. The festival is also celebrated by Laotians in the USA, Canada, France, and Australia. Lao New Year takes place in April, the hottest time of the year in Laos, which is also the start of the monsoon season. Lao New Year takes place at roughly the same time as Songkran in Thailand and Chaul Chnam Thmey in Cambodia.
The official festival lasts for three days from April 13th to April 15th (although celebrations can last more than a week in towns like Luang Prabang). The first day is the last day of the old year. Houses and villages are properly cleaned on the first day. Perfume, water and flowers are also prepared for the Lao New Year. The second day of the festival is the "day of no day", a day that falls in neither the old year or the new year. The last day of the festival marks the start of the new year
Pi Mai celebration, flour throwing
Water is used for washing homes, Buddha images, monks, and soaking friends and passers-by. Students first respectfully pour water on their elders, then monks for blessings of long life and peace, and last of all they throw water at each other. The water is perfumed with flowers or natural perfumes. Some people prefer flowers in the water to give a pleasant smell, as well as adding cologne/perfume. . Over the years another tradition has developed with Lao New Year: people will smear or throw cream (shaving cream or whipped cream) or white powder on each other during the celebrations.
The Cambodia Water Festival or ‘Bon Om Tuk’ in Khmer is the largest festival in the Cambodian calendar and an amazing sight to behold! The 3-day Water Festival in Phnom Penh is of great significance as it celebrates the end of the rainy season, the start of the fishing season, and also the unique natural phenomenon - the flow of the Tonle Sap river changing direction! And not only this, the Cambodia Water Festival also coincides with the full moon of the Buddhist calendar month of Kadeuk, this full moon is traditionally a good omen promising a bountiful harvest.
There is often a parallel festival at Angkor Wat and although it is smaller in scale it is just as impressive due to the backdrop of Angkor Wat.
The festival marks the changing of the flow of the Tonle Sap River and is also seen as thanksgiving to the Mekong River for providing the country with fertile land and abundant fish. It is at this time when the river flow reverts to its normal down-stream direction. In a remarkable phenomenon, the Tonle Sap River earlier reverses its course as the rainy season progresses, with the river flowing "upstream" to Tonle Sap Lake. Then as the rainy season tapers off, the river changes direction once again as the swollen Tonle Sap Lake begins to empty back into the Mekong River, leaving behind vast quantities of fish.
With the objective of bringing the young people together, Singapore in the very recent years came up with their very own water festival uniquely, Singapore !
This Water Festival is known be as the : Singapore International Water Festival (SIWF) acting as a platform to bring the young together and to celebrate her achievements in the world of water since the year of 2009.
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