YANGON — Never mind the heat: If you’re one of Myanmar’s hip young things, April is by far the coolest month.
For a wet, wild week in the middle of the month, thousands of young people in Yangon and other cities around the country will do their best to wash away whatever sorrows they may have in a water fight that has to be seen to be believed.
Despite the Buddhist origins of the Thingyan water festival, which marks the start of the traditional Myanmar New Year, this is for many an occasion to indulge in a lot of loud, free-spirited fun.
Around Yangon, stages are erected and whole neighborhoods are turned into impromptu outdoor dance clubs, complete with blaring sound systems. Just add water—lots and lots of water—and your image of Myanmar as a staid, conservative country will dissolve before your eyes.
But this is not to say that everyone is happy with the way many now celebrate the nation’s most important holiday.
“This is such a loss of our culture,” says Mandalay-based writer Hsu Nget. “We used to celebrate peacefully, without spending huge amounts of money. Now if you go anywhere near Mandalay Moat, all you can see is big stages covered with ads.”
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