Buddhist New Year Celebrations Up Close and Personal
Mya Moe Pwint , Khiri Travel’s Chief Accountant in Myanmar tells about her upcoming lunar New Year celebrations. The biggest holiday of the year in Myanmar is Thingyan. Celebration style depends on age of participants. The children like to run around and play with each other and throw, squirt or hose each other with water. The teenagers and young adults like to go as a group on a pick up truck holding a big drum of water and drive around the city streets and throw water on other vehicles and pedestrians.
Adults celebrate the spiritual tradition of Thingyan by going to the monastery or temple to meditate. However, Moe Pwint says “all the meditation centers are very crowded so I don’t like to go there during Thingyan.” The reason for all the water is to symbolize cleansing—washing things to make them new. New Year’s Day is 17 April and everyone is on their best behavior.
“Thingyan is the longest holiday of the year so some people like to take a trip to visit friends, relatives or go traveling,” adds Moe Pwint. There are special snacks to eat during Thingyan. “My mom always prepared these foods and we shared with our neighbors. Everyone goes outside in the neighborhood sharing food.”
Kwansuda Dodd, the Travel Experiences Manager for Khiri Travel Thailand in Bangkok plans to take her son to do merit at Wat Bua Kwan during this Thai New Year (songkran). This temple is located in Nonthaburi Province not far from her house and the Khiri office. “We will pray for good luck for the coming new year and receive blessings from the monks,” says Kwan.
In Laos, the New Year holiday is called Pi Mai. For Khiri Travel Laos’ Sales Manager in Vientiane, Xomphou Khouarmany, Pi Mai Festival celebrations are all about family and friends. “We will make a Baci Ceremony in the late afternoon on the first day of the holiday and then I will take my family to visit my wife’s relatives in Vang Vieng the next day.” On the last day of the festival, Xomphou will be back in his hometown of Vientiane to party with his friends at one of their homes. “We drink beer, cook BBQ together and throw some water.” Xomphou adds with a smile, “The best place to throw water is on the road on the way to the airport because lots of people pass by that way!”
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