(Mizzima) – Rangoon residents streamed into the city’s major pagodas and monasteries on Tuesday, offering prayers to Buddha and sprinkling scented water on sacred statues in celebration of New Year’s Day.
Burma’s traditional New Year day falls after the five-day water festival, which ran from April 12 to April 16. This year's Water Festival ended on Monday afternoon with closing ceremonies held at the mayors' water sprinkling venue in cities across Burma. Similar festivals are held in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.
Now many people turn their attention to holy stupas and monasteries where they perform meritorious deeds. It is also a tradition for the young to pay their respect to their parents and elders. Many young people also chose this time to take Buddhist precepts, while others donate food or money, or perform meditation.
Many people make New Year resolutions, and show compassion to animals. Releasing birds and fish is a time-honoured tradition on this day; fish are rescued from lakes and rivers drying up under the burning sun before being before released into larger lakes and rivers with a prayer and a wish such as, "I release you once, you release me ten times.”
Among Burma’s 12 seasonal festivals, the Thingyan water festival is the most elaborate and is timed to come during the hottest period of the year.
Songs and music are a big part of the Water Festival. The open-air Rangoon Mayor's water-throwing site, the largest in the city, was accompanied by 44 others. New Year Day ushers in on April 17, according to the Burmese lunar calendar for the coming new year.