Dancers perform during the water festival in Yangon, Myanmar, April 13, 2017. Myanmar's traditional Thingyan Water Festival kicked off here on Thursday. (Xinhua/U Aung)
YANGON, April 13 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar's traditional Thingyan Water Festival was kicked off across the country Thursday morning with opening ceremonies held in regions and states.
In Yangon, the ceremony was held at the biggest water throwing pandal of the region erected in front of the City Hall.
Extending Thingyan new year greeting, Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein unveiled the region's Water Throwing Pavilion.
He called on locals to celebrate the festival in a more traditional way.
The event was highlighted by performances of Myanmar traditional dance troupes in colorful dress and Thingyan music.
Roads and streets were thronged with people dancing to music and dousing each other with water.
There are altogether 22 large, 10 medium, and 27 small water throwing pandals erected in the commercial city.
In recent years, influenced by western culture, Thingyan festival had been celebrated in a modern way with stage shows, electronic music and modern dancing.
A special Rakhine ethnic traditional water festival was also launched in Yangon, in which young men and women stand face to face and drench each other with water while standing in long boats.
On Wednesday, one day ahead of the commencement of the water festival, ethnic Rakhine held a traditional sandalwood grinding competition in Yangon. Rakhine women grinded sandalwood mixed with water on a flat stone to make scented water to be used to wash Buddha statues on the first day of the festival.
In Mandalay, the country's second largest city in the north, water throwing pandal was inaugurated by the region's Chief Minister Zaw Myint Maung.
This year's Myanmar traditional Thingyan water festival will run for four days until Sunday. The Myanmar new year falls on Monday.
In Myanmar, water is a symbol of not only cleanliness but also auspiciousness. Myanmar people believe that celebration of the water festival can wash away past evil and sin and prepare for a happy year ahead.
Among Myanmar's 12 seasonal festivals throughout the year, the Thingyan water festival represents the grandest which brings peace and prosperity to everyone.