Myanmar welcomes New Year with prayers, donations

Buddhist devotees splash water onto a Buddha stupa as they worships at the holy Shwedagon pagoda to mark Myanmar New Year Day in Yangon, Myanmar, 17 April 2017. Photo: Lynn Bo Bo/EPA

People across Myanmar celebrated the New Year on Monday by going to pagodas, donating food and blood, and paying their respects to the elderly.

Everyone from children to politicians got involved in events to ring in the year 1379 on the Myanmar calendar.

De facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President HtinKyaw marked the event by praying and offering alms to monks in a ceremony at the presidential palace in the capital, Naypyitaw.

Elsewhere, in the country's largest city of Yangon, Buddhist devotees flocked to the Shwedagon pagoda where they took part in traditional prayers.

Dozens of people of people also joined a New Year's blood drive at the temple, with queues forming outside when the 30 beds set up for donations were full, an epa journalist reports.

Others released fish and birds as a good deed for the occasion.

Monday's events marked the culmination of days of celebrations for the festival of Thingyan, or "transit", leading up to the New Year.

Since Thursday, large crowds have assembled across the country to take part in traditional water-throwing celebrations in a symbolic washing away of the previous year's sins.

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