There are numbers of common cultural heritages showing relations and connectivity within ASEAN community. Among these, the water festival stands out as one of the most popular events, will be held during summer time in April every year.
The origins of the festival can be traced back to pre-Buddhist times, and it is still celebrated today to ease the burden of the tropical heat and bring a festive mood to agricultural communities where rainfall is crucial to the well-being of the people. This festival is deeply rooted in Buddhist culture and is celebrated to mark the end of one solar year and to welcome the auspicious new beginning that generally revolves around family, faith, and revelry.
During the festival, participants engage in rituals such as splashing water on each other to commemorate the new year as well as a symbolic gesture to wash away illness and bad luck from the previous year. In Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, the water festival is known by different names, but the underlying theme of water as a symbol of purification and renewal remains the same. However, they also showcase unique customs specific to each country's culture and traditions.
Boun Pi Mai: A Happy and Sainted New Year of Laotians
Boun Pi Mai is Laotian New Year, which is celebrated from April 13 to 15. This festival involves water-splashing, sand stupas building, and traditional customs such as merit-making and honoring ancestors. People aim to wash away any bad luck accumulated over the previous year and seek blessings for the year ahead.
Chaul Chnam Thmey: Celebrating a Beautiful Khmer Traditions
Chaul Chnam Thmey is Cambodia's New Year and is held from April 14 to 16. During this festival, Cambodians engage in various activities such as attending temple ceremonies, making offerings, and lighting candles. People also engage in ritualistic cleaning and removing all that is considered old and impure from their homes.
Songkran: Charming of Thai New Year
Songkran is the Thai New Year and is generally celebrated from April 13 to 15. This festival is marked by the throwing of water and the use of water guns in the streets, in addition to other traditional customs such as visiting temples and giving alms to monks. The primary objective of Songkran is to bring good luck through the ritual cleansing of oneself and others.
Thingyan: Symbol of the New Beginning
Thingyan is also known as the "Water Festival". It is celebrated in Myanmar as the Burmese New Year and is typically held from April 13 to 16. During this festival, people splash water at each other and engage in festivities across the country. The throwing of water also serves as a symbol of spiritual cleansing and renewal, as Myanmar is predominantly a Buddhist country.