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July 23, 2019

Rakhine State Thingyan pandals will liven celebration

Local people ready to get wet in Traditional Thingyan Water Festival in Rakhine State. Photo: Han Lin Naing
Local people ready to get wet in Traditional Thingyan Water Festival in Rakhine State. Photo: Han Lin Naing

Rakhine State Minister for Social Welfare Dr. Chan Tar, who is also chairman of the Rakhine State Maha Thingyan Festival Executive Committee, told reporters that Rakhine State will hold a traditional Thingyan Festival amid other festivals that will celebrate the Myanmar New Year of 1380.
He said the festivals will include the pandals, a large platform from which water is thrown at Thingyan participants, a competition in the making of Thanakha (Limonia acidissima) an ancient process that has been handed down the generations, sacred bathing of the images of Buddha, washing of the hair of old women by young ladies, keeping the Sabbath, doing charitable deeds, paying homage to the elderly and participating in water dousing celebration.
Rakhine State will have two large pandals, fifteen medium-sized pandals, and 24 small pandals for people celebrating Thingyan. Dr. Chan Tar said that every year, the Rakhine State Government opens two large pandals in Sittway, and local residents of Mizan Ward open a Rakhine traditional pandal. He said the addition of department-opened pandals will make Rakhine State more lively this year. He said the department pandals are not mandatory but opened by the staff as they wish to celebrate Thingyan.
Dr. Chan Thar said they opened the first Rakhine traditional pandal in Ngapali to promote interest and tourism there. He said that the tradition of placing a wooden long boat filled with water in the pandals was a common sight in his youth but the practice has since become rare. He said he wished to bring that tradition back.
The Rakhine Government has allotted Ks1 million to each township in Rakhine as funds for the Thingyan festival. Rakhine people have the tradition of splashing water on each other only after the sacred bathing of Buddha images.
Before the sacred bathing of the Buddha Images, young men and ladies gather at an appropriate place in their village or ward and grind sandalwood on specially designed smooth stone slabs.
A Rakhine traditional music troupe comprising Rakhine youngsters play Rakhine Thingyan songs and antiphonal chants that include a loud chorus that encourages and entertains the ladies labouring in the grinding of the sandalwood.
There will also be Rakhine musicians to perform on stage.
Dr. Chan Tar said he wished for all the citizens in Rakhine State to celebrate Thingyan with peace and happiness, spreading kindness to each other in this gentle and important traditional festival.—Myo Myint

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