Thingyan History and Traditions: Celebrating Myanmar New Year

Thingyan is the most important festival of Myanmar and it is the celebration of Myanmar New Year. Throwing water at each other is the unique feature of this festival and the water fights are extraordinarily fun. People hop onto the back of the trucks to go around the city and join the celebration. And, some people just grab a bucket of water or water gun to join the water fights. Locals also go to the pagodas to do good deeds, such as cleaning the pagoda, praying, and releasing fishes. Every year, people wait for Thingyan festival excitedly to spend time with family and have fun. So it is better to understand myth of Thingyan or Thingyan History before enjoying it.

History of Thingyan or Myth of Thingyan

Myth of Thingyan is based on the Hindu myth. The King of Brahmas called Arsi, lost a wager to the King of Devas (Thagya-Min), and Thagya-Min decapitated Arsi. Miraculously, the head of powerful being Arsi cannot be disposed without damaging the land, the sky, and the ocean. If the head of Arsi is thrown into the sky, the sky will catch on fire. If it falls on the land, it will burn the land and all the beings on it. When the Arsi head falls into the ocean, the water will boil and the ocean would dry up immediately.

Therefore, Thagya-Min decided not to throw the head and instead, he ordered the princess to hold the head. After one year, another princess need to carry, and the new year is represented the annual change of hands. People believe that Thagya-Min visits the world every Thingyan festival and people welcome him with the ceremonial pots of water.

The reason why Thingyan has 4 days of celebration concerns with Thagya-Min’s visit. The name of the days of Thingyan festival are A Kyo, A Kya, A Kyat, and A Tat. A Kyo is the day for welcoming Thagya-Min and the celebration is usually not very active yet. On A Kya Day, Thagya-Min come down on earth by riding an animal. A Kyat is the day Thagya-Min stay on earth and on A Tat Day, he goes back up to Devas. In every leap year, there are two A Kyat Days and people get to celebrate extra one day.

Thingyan Sa (Thingyan Letter)

It is the new year prophecy and the Brahmins announce the prophecy every year. It is based on what animal Thagya-Min will be riding on his way down to the earth and what he might carry in his hand. Thingyan Sa is usually available a few weeks before Thingyan and people buy it to read the new year prophecy.

There is also another bedtime story related to Thagya-Min. Thagya-Min possess two books of judgment and they are golden book and dog book. People believe that Thagya-Min put the names of people who have done good deeds into the golden book. Then, he puts the names of people who have done bad deeds into the dog book. They believe that the person whose name is put in the dog book will face bad luck.

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