Rangoon revels in New Year water party

People in Burma have flocked onto the streets of Rangoon throughout this week, dancing and spraying water on one another to celebrate Thingyan festival and the ushering in of a traditional new year.

Locals believe water symbolises the washing away of bad luck from the previous year in order to start afresh in the new year.

Last week, Burmese local news reported that police had conducted a nationwide crackdown against sexual crime during Thingyan festival. The crackdown has resulted in contraceptive pills and condoms being pulled from shelves in pharmacies, a move which some health experts say is highly misguided.

Despite a high occurrence of sexual crime, many Burmese women felt they would still be able to enjoy the festival.

“I am really happy and enjoying Thingyan. I pray that our Myanmar people will enjoy the festival happily and safely during our Thingyan festival,” said 45 year-old Mu Mu Khin.

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“Thingyan means cleaning away waste from the previous year so as not to bring bad things into the new year with us. As a young woman, I want to say that we have to enjoy this festival by avoiding putting ourselves in danger,” said 20 year-old Ma Khaing.

Burma’s lunar calendar makes this year thirteen hundred and seventy seven.

And while modern dance music pumps through many of Rangoon’s streets, traditional Buddhist song and dance remains at Thingyan’s heart.

The annual water festival, which runs from April 13 to 16, is celebrated widely in Southeast Asia, including in countries such as Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.

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