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Politer, less unruly Mandalay water festival celebrations this year


Famous rock band in Myanmar, Vocal Lay Phyu and guitarist Chit San Maung perform during water festival in Mandalay on 16 April, 2016. Photo: Aung Ko Oo/Mizzima

Famous rock band in Myanmar, Vocal Lay Phyu and guitarist Chit San Maung perform during water festival in Mandalay on 16 April, 2016. Photo: Aung Ko Oo/Mizzima

Thousands of gallons of water may have been thrown in the city of Mandalay during this year’s water festival but it’s proved to be a “politer” and “less unruly” celebration compared to last year.

Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city, is sweltering in the summer heat but the residents and foreign tourists have taken the opportunity this week to let their hair down for the Myanmar New Year.

“This year, there was a caution issued by the National League for Democracy party not to celebrate too much because of the NLD,” said young local businesswoman May Thu Kyaw. “People were asked not to use NLD logos, banners and T-shirts too much during the water festival.

May Thu Kyaw told Mizzima that one noticeable difference this year was that security police were in abundance, but not traffic police, which led to “immense” traffic jams.

In addition, so-called “Day Clubs” were open during the day where young people congregated. Day Clubs and Night Clubs are illegal in Mandalay as the authorities like to promote the image of the city as a “cultural city” – and avoid any danger of sleazy venues becoming popular.

This year the festival ran for five days, rather than four.

The Thingyan Water Festival tends to close down Myanmar for a full week, offering people the chance to relax in what is typically the hottest time of the year.

This year appears to be particularly hot, with temperatures soaring above 40 degrees Centigrade on occasion, and the many parts of the country are suffering from drought.

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