Dhaka: The traditional Rakhine Thingyan water festival has been celebrated by Arakanese communities throughout Asia with water play to mark the new year of the Rakhine era.
On 10 April, the first new year festival was celebrated by the Arakanese community in Singapore. Both Arakanese and Burmese participated in the occasion.
A youth who led the water festival in Singapore said, "The event of the water festival in Singapore was a first. We celebrated the festival in order to preserve and look after our traditions. We get unity among our people by celebrating the water festival in Singapore. That is our goal in celebrating the water festival in Singapore."
On 12 April, a water festival was celebrated by Arakanese students in Chittagong, the second largest city in Bangladesh. Many young people participated in the water festival and news of the celebration was picked up by many local Bengali newspapers.
The Arakanese traditional water festival will also be celebrated in many places in Burma, Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia from 13 to 17 April.
The biggest water festival will be celebrated by the Arakanese community in Rangoon, with ten water-play pavilions where young men and women play by throwing water at each other.
Ko Hla Mying, secretary of the festival committee, said, "We have ten townships represented with water-play pavilions at the Rangoon Rakhine water festival and we celebrate the festival in accordance with Rakhine traditions. However, security will be tight at our festival with security guards deployed and CCP video cameras set up."
At last year's water festival there was a bomb blast at the X20 pavilion alongside Kandawgyi Lake. Eight people were killed and nearly 100 were wounded in the triple bomb blast.
Thingyan will also be celebrated around Arakan State, especially in the capital Sittwe. The Arakanese community in Sittwe has plans to hold the largest Rakhine traditional water festival ever held in the city. The military authority celebrated the new year with traditional Burman festivals in the past and has not allowed traditional Arakanese celebrations in several years.
U Kyaw, who is a community leader in Sittwe, said, "The military has not allowed our traditional water festival in Sittwe in the past. The authority celebrated the new year in Sittwe with Burman traditions by throwing water through pipes. So now we will celebrate the water festival with Arakanese style this year because the military government has already gone and now there is a civilian government."
The Arakanese water festival is very lovely and different from other water festivals. Unmarried boys and girls have the chance to play water with each other at pavilions with a boat placed in water. During the play, a boy can approach a girl he is interested in to offer his love. No relatives, including the father and mother of the girl, can interfere with their child's affairs during the water festival.
Because of this, thousands of Arakanese youth participate happily in the water festival to celebrate the new year.
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