Water difference a year makes

SINGAPORE - Despite the sweltering heat last Sunday, the typically quiet stretch of road outside the Burmese Buddhist Temple in Balestier was overrun with water-gun-toting revellers looking to inflict maximum "carnage" on friends, family and unsuspecting passers-by.

Armed with watering cans, water bottles and pails, members of the Myanmar community here came in droves to celebrate the water festival of Thingyan.

From about 10am to 2pm, people of all ages congregated at the 80m-long Tai Gin Road, spraying water on each other as loud techno music played in the background.

Passers-by were ambushed from behind as children took up positions on a pick-up truck with a big tank of water on top. Most ended up soaked from head to toe.

The Myanmar people came to this yearly event organised by the temple to pray, give offerings, enjoy traditional Myanmar delicacies and, of course, revel in the water-spraying festivities.

Mr Nanda Tet Tun, one of the participants of this year's event, said over 10,000 people turned up.


The 30-year-old project co-ordinator, who has been celebrating Thingyan yearly since he came to Singapore in 2004, said the festival is traditionally celebrated over the four to five days culminating in the Myanmar New Year.

In Singapore, however, the festivities are limited to one weekend due to work commitments, he added.

Similar to the Thai festival of Songkran, Thingyan ushers in the new year and the spraying of water symbolises the washing away of unhappiness and bad luck.

In Myanmar, people spray water from big bamboo stages and locals drive around town with friends and family, Mr Nanda said.

For this year's event, he and his friend filled two tanks of water and brought them to the temple in lorries.

"I understand that water is precious for everyone, but what is a water festival without water?" he said.

This article was published on April 15 in The New Paper.

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