The Water Splashing Festival or Water Festival, is the form New Year celebrations take in Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Laos and the Chinese province Yunnan. It is called the 'Water Splashing Festival' because people throw water at one another whenever they meet. The water-throwing can sometimes get too rough, but nobody is supposed to get angry. Traditional dance, singing and cultural shows are performed together during the festival.
The Water Splashing Festival, according to the Dai calendar, is held on New Year's Day. It was celebrated by both visitors and residents in Jinghong, Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in southwest China's Yunnan Province from April 12 to 18 once a year.
The annual Water Splashing Festival is most important holiday of the Dai people. Held during the sixth month of the Dai calendar, usually falling in the middle of April, it is also known as the Festival for Bathing the Buddha. It is similar to Thailand's Songkran, three days of unbridled festivities in which everybody gets doused with water.
At present, the Water Splashing Festival is a traditional festival for the Dai people in Xishuangbanna and other places. On that day, Dai people splash water on each other to celebrate the New Year. Water is the symbol of holiness, goodness and brightness. Dai people regard water as the god of life on which everything depends to live and grow. Water Splashing Festival usually lasts three or four days.
People take part in thesong and dance, dragon-boat races, the launching of rockets and the flying of Kongming lanterns, parades and fire lamps. People gather along the roadsides and in public parks and squares armed with buckets and basins of water or carrying squirt guns to drench each other in wishes for good luck and a happy new year. The Dai people account for 34 percent of the population of Xishuangbanna and form the biggest ethnic group in Yunnan Province, home to 25 of China's ethnic minorities. Young boys and girls throw colorful pouches to each other for expressing their mutual love. Water splashing is the most exciting of all. People splash water onto each other as a symbol of benediction. The more water one is splashed with, the bigger benediction he receives.
Xishuangbanna, an ancient and mysterious, beautiful and colorful land displays its charisma to you like a green peacock displaying its fine tail feathers. You will be intoxicated by its sight and nationality customs when you visit.
History of the Water Splashing Festival
Although there are numerous legends about the origin of the festival, one of the best known tells of the long-ago days when there was a devil in the village where the Dai people lived, doing all manner of evil. All the people hated him but his magic was too powerful for them to overcome.
One day in the sixth month, his seventh wife, who had been kidnapped from the village, tricked him into revealing his weaknesses. As he slept, his wives used his hair to cut off his head. But the head began to burn when it touched the ground, and the fire would die only if one of the women held the head tightly in her arms.
So the seven wives took turns holding the head, each for a period of one year. Every year when they changed, people would splash water on the woman who had been holding the head for the past year to wash away the blood and a year of fatigue. As time went by, the ritual became a happy, even raucous, way to send off the old year and greet the new.