by Su Myat Sandy
YANGON, April 9 (Xinhua) -- Residents of this capital city will be regaled with music and songs, both traditional and pop, during the annual Thingyan water festival which will start on Saturday.
Among the country's 12 festivals, the Thingyan water festival is considered to be the grandest since it brings peace and prosperity to the people of Myanmar.
The water symbolizes the washing away of the previous year's bad luck and sins.
Although the style of holding the Thingyan water festival is slightly different among the various ethnic groups in Myanmar due to geographical locations, the way that is celebrated based on local customs and tradition is basically the same and has existed for hundreds of years.
The water festival will run for four days until next Tuesday after which the country will usher in its new year on April 17 according to Myanmar calendar.
But the public holidays for the water festival officially begin on April 12 and would last up to April 21, or a total of 10 days.
During the festival, the people of Myanmar, especially the young ones, will have time to spend with friends and families as schools and universities have been closed for the traditional holidays.
This year, Yangon city administration has built a water- throwing pavilion with a new design and shape.
The Yangon central pavilion will feature a wide variety of performances to be presented by Yein troupes, music bands and a group of comedians.
Besides the city government's water throwing pavilion, there are also 37 others, including those erected by businessmen and private companies.
All these water-throwing structures are equipped with CCTV cameras to monitor the movement of people as a preventive measure during the festival since a series of riots and protests have happened recently in the country.
To facilitate holiday makers in traveling across the country, some trains have additional schedules.
Water festival has always caused major traffic jams since water throwers used to rent cars, trucks and jeeps to enjoy water splashing.
Some famous companies arrange to invite celebrities and dignitaries to visit their water-throwing pandals which have modern sound systems and lighting effects to attract attention.
Some noted celebrities have been invited to perform in Mandalay, the second largest city, which features multitude pandals that encircle the city's centrally-located palace moat.
Mandalay, which is the cultural and business center in the north of Myanmar, is also known for its colorful fluvial parade of decorated floats in the evening during the water festival.
Rich with cultural heritage, Mandalay, also known as Yadanabon, was built by King Mindon in 1897, and has been the last royal capital of Myanmar.
Hotel rooms are now fully booked in Yangon, Mandalay and other major cities as holiday-makers, including foreign tourists, have arrived to enjoy watching and participating in the water festival.
Myanmar people are also accustomed to do charity donation at this time and young boys are sent by their parents to Buddhist monasteries to serve as novices.
Myanmar also preserves some unique styles in celebrating the water festival. For instance, in the ethnic Rakhine, during the water festival young men and women stand face to face and drench each other with water while standing in long boats.
Offering smelly Thingyan rice is also the tradition of Mon ethnic minorities while paying respects to the elderly and providing free meal and performing Thaman Kyar dances are prevalent in Dawei and Myeik regions in the southern part of Myanmar.