Thingyan in Myanmar history and Literature

Thingyan Festival Pagan Kingdom.
Thingyan Festival Pagan Kingdom.

drSanskrit word Songaran (ouF&ef) has been adopted into Myanmar word (oMuFef) (Thingyan) which means change (1) from cold season to warm season ; (2) change from old to new lease of life of nature and environment; (3) change of the sun from the Tropic of Capricorn to the Tropic of Cancer ; (4) change of the charge of holding the head of Athi Brahma Deva from one devi to another devi.
Hindu Brahmani culture has an influence on Myanmar long before the arrival of Buddhism to it. It was the festival of the victory of Saka Deve (Thunder god) who cut off the head of Brahma Deva because he won in their contest for the solution of a mathematical problem. Blood gushed out of the Athi Brahma Deva’s head were smeared on his body as a token of this resounding victory. So Hindu Brahmans sprinkle and splash each other’s body with red coloured water to present. Athi Brahma’s blood. The head of Athi Brahma Deva was put in the charge of seven devis of the week, Sunday to Saturday, who each by turn had to hold the Athi Brahma Deva’s head because it was dangerous to throw it on the earth or into the ocean as earth will burn to or ocean will dry up. Hence Songaran (oMuFef) means change of duty.
When Buddhism arrived in Myanmar, Myanmar Buddhist celebrate Sogaran (oMuFef) in Buddhist way. Only clean and cool pure water is sued to clean and cleanse the environment one’s body and soul. So Myanmar Thingyan Festival is featured with the characteristics of nature, environment and physical and spiritual aspects of human beings. The atar o (twmtdk;) an earthen pot with clear, cool and scented water and a boquet of 7 springs of flora, representing seven days of the weak is placed at the entrance of the house to usher in the Thingyan Festival.
Legend has it that at this time Sakka deva (Thunder god) descends to earth to inspect if human beings are behaving good. He is accompanied by two assistant devas-Martali deva the registra and Vithugyone, the driver of the vehicle of Saka Deva. Usually inspection lasts one day. But some years two days. After finishing the inspection duty, Saka Deva and his assistant devas ascend to their deva kingdom. On the Dooms day, the two inspection record books were examined. Good human being recorded in the gold record are awarded by sending them to deva kingdoms, but bad human beings recorded in the do-skin record book were sent down the hells.
Myanmar Kings celebrated Thingyan festival at the court. Myanmar chronicle has the full account of Thingyan festival celebrated by King Narathihapate (1254-87A.D). “A long enclosed corridor was constructed between the palace of Bagan and the jetty of Loka Nanda on the Ayeyawady River. The King his queens and all concubines were freely and happily sprinkled splashed scented fresh water of the river.
In the Loka Byuha Kyan (Inyone Sardan) complied by Minister Thiri UZana in which all court festivals and ceremonies were recorded in detail.
Good will, loving kindness (metta) and cheerful heart vibrate the spirit of Thingyan. Regardless of race, religion and creed, friends or strangers all can participate in this Thingyan festival, enjoy Thingyan food, snack or soft drink, put on face body Thingyan Thanakha oeyfcg; , natural make-up from Thanakha bark.
Thingyan has been depicted, presented and re-enacted in Myanmar visual and performing arts and Myanmar Visual Arts yef;q,frsKd;. Thingyan festival is depicted in mural paintings and you can find the scenes of Thingyan festivals. In Myanmar literature Thingyan festival has always been a favorite celebration. Hpho Thudaw U Min, the well-known writer of Late Konbaung Period of Myanmar literature history, composed Tagu Thingyan as follows:
ဟောင်းရွက်ညှာ ခါလစ်လို့
ဘေသစ်တဲ့ နံ့ကြိုင်
စိတြငယ်နှင့်၊ ငွေလသော်တာတို့

Tagu (April)
The New Year in its
With fragrance every where
As touched the arid nakedness
Where leafless trees are bare
The gentle passage of the breeze
Has scattered
Blooms of Gantgaw trees
The silver moon is riding high
As Yugan mountain in the sky
And stars out-shining
stars that be
Engaged in radiant rivalry
(Theophelus in a Burmese wonderland)

It would form volumes if re-enactments of Thingyan festivals in performing arts of the past were collected.
The writer wishes to give the readers only a summary of re-enacting in performing arts including films of his time. Still in vogue are the Thingyan songs of Myo Ma Nyein of high repute.
Among them Mya Nanda song is the top. He was inspired by the old Myanmar poem about Mandalay hill and Mandalay city.

အသက်ကလေးရယ်တဲ့ ရှည်စေလို့
မြနန္ဒာ ရေညိုသန်းတဲ့
ခေါင်းလောင်းသံ တချိုချိုနဲ့
ရွှေဗဟို စည်တော်ဟိန်းတယ်၊

For the longevity of your life
Take shelter in the shade of Mandalay Hill
Which is caressed by fresh water of Mya Nanda lake.
Pleasant bells are ringing softly
And the booming of clock drum drive away all evils and enemies
“Mya Nanda” his Thingyan song

ရွှေမန်းတောင် ရိပ်ခိုတယ်၊ ခိုတယ်၊
ကိုလူပျိုရယ် မြလေးလေး နန္ဒာ နန္ဒာ
ရွှေမန်းတောင်ရိပ် ခိုတယ်။ ခိုတယ်။
ကိုလူပျိုရယ် ပျော်ခင်းလေးသာပါ

Chorus: Young lads taking shelter
In the cool shade of Mandalay Hill
Encircled by the cool fresh water of Lake Mya Nanda nearly
You’ll be happy and lucky
Good fortune awaits you in New Year

In the films of Myanmar, many hits were made by film actors and actresses such as Khin Than Nu, Win U, May Than Nu and Zin Waing. In the film “ Thangyan Moe” actor Zin Waing, and actresses Khin Than Nu and May Than Nu played leading roles. In the film “Maung do Chery Myey” actor Win U and actress Khin Than Nu were leading roles.
Thingyan Festival is the background of Myanmar hit films.
Today Thingyan Festival begins weeks before its date. Due to long vacation in Summer Myanmar people today celebrate Thingyan Festival in advance. “Walking Thingyans”. Akyo Thingyans Harbingering Thingyans are held soon after matriculation Exams are over. This year floating Thingyan festival is held on Inlay Lake.
Myanmar people never miss Thingyan whether at home or abroad. Myanmar embassies hold Thingyan festivals participated by Myanmar and foreigners. The write himself performed dance and sang songs in Thingyan festivals of Myanmar Embassy, 19A, Charles Street, London in 1957-60.
Hail Maha Thingyan of April 2019!

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