Thingyan: View from an Expat


Balaji V

Come April and Myanmar begins the new financial year and also get into a celebratory mode, one of the biggest in SE Asia, the Thingyan Water Festival. One can sense the mood of celebration and fun in the beginning of the month itself. Working people start planning their holidays and the Thingyan pandals they will celebrate in, Students gear up with excitement and plan their do’s. Generation X start their wardrobe shopping, hair do’s (which has become a rage now and quite exciting too), malls are flooded with new arrivals and shopping specials.
All over Myanmar Pandals (stages) are set with live bands and musicians belting their best. One of my favourite number of the water festival  and must say quite a popular one is sung by Daw Tun Eaindra Bo and one can sense the peace and tranquility listening to her songs.
Expats in Myanmar for the first time are told umpteen number of stories about the water festival and look forward with great excitement and anxiety. Excitement because for many it will be a first time and anxiety because almost all supermarkets, restaurants and most of the basic essential services are closed. One has to stock even their basic food essentials, groceries, vegetables in advance and that is quite a challenge. Unfortunately many expats travel during these days and it may be a good idea for Myanmar to make this festival as a tourist attraction and work out special offers for foreigners to come and visit Myanmar during this time and enjoy the beauty at it’s best.  One can say, Myanmar knows how to celebrate. The best part is by and large this festival is very peaceful and safe in Myanmar.  I can’t imagine such a festival going on for almost 5 days without such concerns in a country like India.
Retailers have a great pre Thingyan sale and I guess compensate for the next 10 days of lull too. Off late, many corporates have pitched in with the pandal managers and sponsorship pours in which ensures the pandals are able to generate enough to make their settings exciting for everyone who attend.
El Nino may be a spoilt sport this time with many regions, and rightfully too, attempting to restrict the water wastage. However, knowing Myanmar and the people, it is going to be a fun April 2016.
As I am writing this piece am reliving the pre Thingyan Festival fervor and feeling sad that I will be missing it too. However my friends in Facebook ensure nothing is missed every second. Social media will be the water bed for this year’s Thingyan Festival.Wishing everyone in Myanmar a very happy Thingyan .

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