Thursday, April 2, 2015

Water Festival or Thinkran

Water Festival or Thinkran  by Ashin Siri Okkantha

The Festival is generally held in the month of Thankhu which is the first Arakanese month nearly corresponding to March-April. The water festival is very popular in Arakan and Burma, but Arakanese water festival is very different from the Burmese water festival. The cultural aspect influences the Arakanese water festival more, while the merriment aspect does so in Burma. Usually the ceremony is on 4th April yearly according to Arakanese calendar. The ceremony also commemorates the new year.

Before a new year day, young women are invited to join the ceremony in a common house when the young man help them with necessary things required for the celebrations. The bachelors and virgins only gather together. As the young women make the fragrant essence, the young men play on the ground in front of the same house and sing songs happily. The next day in the evening, they go to the local monastery and pay their homage to Lord Buddha with water, apply Scented-Water, cover the images with new yellow robes. They invite the residential monks and then give bath to monks and pay homage to them. And then they observe together the five precepts under the guidance of the venerable ones.

At night, they prepare food to serve the people who come to observe eight precepts and to practise meditation at local Buddhist temple. They are fed with meals before midday. There is a remarkable difference in the custom of Arakan. They start water festival by first keeping water in a gig (laung or boat), which is like a boat in a pandal decorated with colourful flowers according to their culture. The young women gather on both sides of the gig, under guardianship of an elderly women. The bachelor group then come to play by splashing the water, and mix the scented-water or perfume. A bachelor chooses or selects one among the young women and introduces himself by name. She accepts him and offers a small vessel of water to him. He splashes  the water on her hand and she also pours water on him. The young men must be senior to the young woman in age. The young man must not splash water on the elder woman.

This ceremony gives the Arakanese young people freedom in selecting their lovers. The parents never interfere with them during the ceremony. In this month, the people hold a regatta, mostly in town and it consists at least thirteen gigs or more in the regatta. Many people come to attend this ceremony. The members of committee of the ceremony must select the first, second and third among them in the racing of gigs and award them prizes. This is the brief description of the ceremony.

Photos: internet
Note: This text is from "History of Buddhism in Arakan"  by Ashin Siri Okkantha (Ph.D Thesis, University of Calcutta, 1990,  Unpublished)
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