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This week millions of Burmese celebrated New Year by getting merry and very very wet. The Thingyan Festival is also a national holiday in some other Buddhist countries in Southeast Asia, most notably Thailand where it is known as Songkran. Assumed to have originated in India through the festivities of Holi, Thingyan is essentially a rice harvest celebration, marking the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season. Traditionally, it was in the middle of April, the driest time of the year, that families found themselves without water or scraping the bottom of their last urn. The Water Festival is in many ways a rain-dance, a way of making sacred the last drops of water for the year in the robust faith that the heavens will bestow rainwater in return. And in fact, it does seem to work – more often than not, the skies open on the evening of Thingyan, on 13 or 14 April, and the first rains of the season pour down. Some might suggest that the shroud of condensation that the celebrations produce may account for the rain, but others will assure you that it is the benevolence of the gods. In any case, it is a special time of year for all Burmese – an occasion of much playful fun and partying, but also a time for spiritual reflection.
DVB would like to wish each of its readers and TV viewers a very happy Burmese New Year. May you enjoy a good harvest and may all your family be healthy!
The DVB team
Other New Year’s messages from well-known Burmese:
Aung San Suu Kyi, NLD chairperson, speaking to the media at Rangoon airport:
“I wish you all to be successful media workers in the New Year. To the public, I would like them to understand they will really have to struggle this year to achieve what they want.”
Min Ko Naing, 88 Generation Peace and Open Society
“I would like to extend my wishes to the Burmese people living outside their homeland – I, myself, spent some time in exile and understand the feeling of loneliness and sadness that come around this time of the year. The majority of Burmese people living abroad left their homes to escape various struggles, hardship and poverty. I hope that they all get to come home and join the Thingyan next year.”
Chit Oo Nyo, writer
“It is my wish that everyone in Burma including the government, parliament, political parties, civil servants, members of the public, monks and laymen will clean off their dirt from the past year with Thingyan water. But typically this doesn’t happen – everyone still sticks to their bad habits, negative attitudes and backward thinking from the past – and so I hope they really start to clean up this time, and freshen their minds and souls to build a democratic society.
Kyaw Yin Myint, journalist
“I wish for the New Year to be free from the hostile attitudes that, in the last year, drove people in our country to inflict harm upon each other on the pretext of race and religion, and I wish for the new democratic nation longed for by the people.”
Nu Nu Yi, writer
“I wish the people of Burma a healthy and happy new year, and be free from all suffering.”
Dr. Tuja, chairman, Kachin State Progressive Party
“I wish for resolutions on the various issues in the country, success in national reconciliation, and the establishment of peace in our country. I hope everyone will join hands in a spirit of union toward democratic development and a spectacular future.”