YANGON, April 13 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar's traditional Thingyan water festival kicked off across the country on a grand scale on Friday.
Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein unveiled the region's water throwing pavilion erected in front of the region's City Hall, calling on people to maintain peaceful festive atmosphere and to participate in efforts in establishing a better system in the new year based on the old year's undertakings.
The ceremony was opened by performances by Myanmar traditional dancers troupes in colorful dress with Thingyan music.
Meanwhile, Rakhine ethnic traditional water festival, one of the unique styles of celebrating the traditional Thingyan water festival, was launched, in which young men and women stood face to face and drenched each other with water while standing in long boats.
As a part of the celebrations, ethnic Rakhine held a traditional sandalwood grinding competition in Yangon on Thursday, a day ahead of the festival, in which 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.
Moreover, special events featuring "Walking Thingyan festivals," organized by the Yangon regional government, was held for the first time at Yangon City Hall, Maha Bandoola Park, Kandawgyi Myay Padaythar Garden, U Ottama Park (Kandawmin Park) and Thakin Mya Park.
Mandalay Region Chief Minister Zaw Myint Maung called for unity to establish the democracy federal union starting from new year, at the inauguration ceremony of the water-throwing pandal in the country's second largest city Mandalay.
Myanmar people annually celebrate the traditional Thingyan water festival to welcome the new year. Similar festivals celebrated in other Southeast Asian countries included Songkran in Laos and Thailand, Chaul Chnam Thmey in Cambodia, among others. It is also celebrated in China's Yunnan province by local Dai ethnic nationality.
Among Myanmar's 12 seasonal festivals throughout the year, the Thingyan water festival represents the grandest which is believed to bring peace and prosperity to everyone.
As part of celebration of the festival, people throw and douse water onto one another to wash away the sins and moral impurities from the old year.
This year's Thingyan festival will be celebrated for four days until Monday after which Tuesday will usher in the Myanmar new year.
The festival is being celebrated in full swing by people roaming around the city to receive the water-throwing from pandals where people throw water using hoses.
According to authorities, there were 19 large, 11 medium and 32 small water throwing pandals in the commercial city of Yangon.
During the festival, roads and streets were crowded with people dancing to music and dousing each other with water.
Meanwhile, security measures were increased during the water festival to ensure safety.