Thingyan Water Festival marks the traditional New Year's Day. Traditionally, it involved the sprinkling of scented water in a silver bowl using a branch of leaves of the Jambul tree to metaphorically "wash away" one's sins of the past year. Nowadays, water is hurled from buckets, sprayed from water pistols and hoses to drench anyone and everyone to welcome the new year. The festival lasts for three or four days. However, in most parts of the country, water-throwing does not begin in earnest until the second day.|
Thingyan is similar to other new year festivities such as
Cambodian New Year,
Pi Mai Lao in Laos, and
the more widely known Songkran in Thailand.
Phaung Daw U Pagoda Festival is one of the popular festivals in Shan State and it draws crowds from all over Myanmar. The main attraction is the procession of four golden Buddhas on a royal barge to each village around Inle Lake. The barge is pulled by hundreds of leg-rowers. The Buddha statues have lost their shape because devotees have been plastering them with many layers of gold leaf. To the devotees, the plastering of gold leaves is a sign of reverence.
The fifth golden Buddha stays behind in the pagoda. The story is that all five sunk to the bottom of the lake during a storm in 1965, and only four were recovered. The fifth one mysteriously re-appeared full of algae in the pagoda. Since then, this fifth Buddha has never left the pagoda.
Boat races featuring leg-rowers are also held. At the festival market, lots of snacks can be found especially white sticky rice balls.
Phaung Daw U is closely followed by the Thadingyut Festival of Lights which celebrates Buddha's return from heaven to earth. Candles, oil lamps and multi-coloured lanterns lit up monasteries, pagodas, houses even trees.