Guwahati, April 15, 2019:
While people in Assam are busy celebrating Bihu and grooving to the beats of the Bihu-themed songs, many do not know that a similar atmosphere prevails in neighboring country Myanmar during this time of year. Our neighbors from Myanmar celebrate ‘Thingyan’, which is a Buddhist festival, to usher in the Burmese New Year. Like the Bihu in Assam, the Myanmar New Year is also held during mid-April.
Thingyan is comparable to other festivities in the region such as the Songkran in Laos, the Songkran in Thailand, the Cambodian New Year, the Sinhalese New Year and the Bihu festival of Assam.
To mark the traditional New Year, which falls in mid-April, Myanmar people free birds and fish to make merit. For the government, releasing prisoners in the New Year period is customary.
Myanmar will celebrate the New Year festival starting Saturday, and usher in the New Year on April 17. As the festival draws near, the families of detainees and political activists are hoping for good news.
Last year, Myanmar President U Win Myint pardoned 8,541 prisoners in the New Year amnesty, including 36 political prisoners and 51 foreigners.
The dates of the festival are observed as public holidays throughout Myanmar and are part of the summer holidays at the end of the school year. Water-throwing or dousing one another from any shape or form of vessel or device that delivers water is the distinguishing feature of this festival and may be done on the first four days of the festival.