Sprinkling of water using sprigs of Thabyey (Eugenia)

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  • Tha Sein
  • Today called a-kya nei is when Thingyan truly arrives as Thagyamin, King of Tavatimsa Deva Loka (realm of devas) makes his descent from his celestial abode to earth. Traditionally, Thingyan involved the sprinkling of scented water in a sliver bowl using sprigs of Thabyey (Eugenia), a practice that continues to be prevalent in rural areas. The sprinkling of water was intended to metaphorically wash away one’s sins of the previous year. It is the hottest time of the year and a good dousing is welcomed by most and, revelers, young and old, participate in this tradition by splashing water on each other.
    On this specific occasion, performing water pouring on Buddha statues and images is considered an iconic ritual for this holiday. It represents purification and the washing away of one’s sins and bad luck. It is a time for some boys and girls to enter the religious Order and spend a short time in a monastery immersed in the teachings of the Buddha. The boys become novice monks and the girls become nuns for a fixed period of time. Releasing fish is another time-honored tradition in this day. Paying reverence to ancestors is also an important part of the Thingyan tradition.
    The Thingyan celebration is rich with symbolic traditions. Morning begins with merit-making. Visiting local temples and offering food to the Buddhist monks is commonly practiced. As a way to show respect, younger people often visit the elders and pay respects with traditional offering of water in a earthen pot and shampoo. As a festival of unity, people who have moved away usually return home to their loved ones and elders.
    While Myanmar retains a more elaborate culture of Thingyan, it is necessary for the revelers to show rich Myanmar traditions and culture during the festival by paying mutual respects, exercising patience and taking care of negative emotions rather than being hostile and quarreling, which tarnish the fine tradition of Thingyan. To avert any bad luck that might fall on oneself, one has to do meritorious deeds to his or her utmost through the performance of giving (Dhana), observance of morality (Sila) and practice of meditation (Bhavana; Samahta and Vipassana) if one is a Buddhist. And only then, will Thingyan have meaning for Myanmar people and be revered by others, for it is more than a mere festive occasion. It is a time for reflection and make plans for the new year.
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