Water-splashing Festival: Dai People's New Year in Yunnan
Water-splashing Festival: Dai People's New Year in Yunnan
Water-splashing Festival is the most solemn festival for Dai people in Yunnan Province in the southwest of China. It is the Dai' New Year held at the 13th to 16th of the 4th month of Chinese lunar calendar with a 3-day celebration.
The festival is also known as Songkran Festival or Bathing Buddha Festival. The first day is called "Mairi" in the Dai's language like Chinese New Year's Eve. The second day is called "Naori" or "Kongri" in Thai and the third day called "Bimai" which means the New Year of Dai people. The third day is the happiest and propitious day through the whole year.
It is the grandest festival celebrated by the most minorities among ethnic people in Yunnan. Dai people and De'ang people celebrate the festival. Besides, there are celebrations of Water-splashing Festival in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand in the world.
Origin of Water-Splashing Festival
Dai people in Dehong area of Xishuangbanna called the Water-splashing Festival as "Shangkran" or "Shangjian" which are originated from Buddhism culture. The festival from India was an ancient ritual ceremony of Brahmanism which is adopted by Buddhism. It is introduced into Dai area in Yunnan Province through Burma during the late of 12th century and the early 13th century. Due to influence of Buddhism, Water-splashing festival becomes a national custom to hand down. With a long history, the festival plays an important role in Dai people's life. Nowadays, it is the grandest festivals for the Dai and a festival attracting numerous travelers from the world.
Where to see Water-splashing Festival?
Dai people's Water-splashing Festival is reputed as "Carnival in the East". Located in the southeast of Yunnan Province, Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture is the best place to experience the festival. Xishuangbanna has a tropical rain forest climate so its best time to visit is from October to June in the next year. But Water-splashing Festival around the middle of April attracts hundreds of travelers from the world. Additionally, travelers can experience Dai people's culture, explore in its tropical rain forest and possible see elephants in Wild Elephant Valley in Xishuangbanna.
Activities during the Water-splashing Festival
The whole celebration of Water-splashing Festival lasts 3 days. Main celebrations of the first two days are held on the banks of Lancang River. There are a lot of out-door shops setting up for the New Year shopping. Travelers can also join local people to buy some souvenirs. Amazing sand carvings and tasty local snacks may attract your attentions.
Dragon Boat Racing
In addition, there is a dragon boat race held along the Lancang River in the afternoon on the first day. And travelers can also see local people lighting lanterns on the river in the evening. Local people believe that to light lanterns on the Lancang River can make people get rid of bad luck and bring people good luck and fortune.
Washing the Buddha
The third day is the most important among the celebrations. In the morning, Dai people dressed the newest and best festival clothes get together in the Buddhism temples with clean water. After monks chant the Buddhism scriptures, Dai people start to wash the Buddha with water. So the festival is also called "Bathing Buddha Festival".
Splashing water to each other
Water is luck with their best wishes of the New Year. And then people splash water to every people with all kinds of buckets and basins. Travelers are welcome to take part in the festival and at the same time some travelers will properly be splashed surprisingly. So it is wise not to bring phones and cameras on the streets during the festival. Other celebrations consist of pendulum-catching and peacock dancing.
Top things to do in Xishuangbanna
Xishuangbanna Primitive Forest Park
As one of the biggest comprehensive ecological parks in Dai people's area, Xishuangbanna Primitive Forest Park is a good choice for tropical rain forest and Dai people's local culture. 98% of the park is covered with various precious tropical plants. Due to great rain forest, the park is an animal kingdom to see lots of animals including peacocks, monkeys and unique pangolins and lizards. And local ethnic culture is another highlight of the park. It is a good place to be lost in the jungle for a leisure journey.
- Name in Chinese: 西双版纳原始森林公园
- Address: Near 213 national highway, 8 miles away from Jinghong City in Xishuangbanna (西双版纳距景洪市8公里处213国道旁)
- Tel： 0691- 2759818
- Working hours: 07:30-18:00
- Ticket: 65 CNY
- How to get there:
There are regular buses from 7:20 to 17:00 to Xishuangbanna Primitive Forest Park.
Wild Elephant Valley
Wild Elephant Valley is located at Sanchahe Valley in Mengyang Natural Reserve, about 47 kilometers away from Jinghong City in Xishuangbanna. It is a forest park where about 300 wild elephants live in. A lot of travelers around the world just head to the valley because of its wild elephants. And the park is made up of performing elephants, peacock garden, butterfly greenhouse and tropical rain forest. Travelers can enjoy an elephant performance from 11:00 to 12:00 or 14:00 to 15:00 every day. But it is not free to take a photo with the elephants.
- Name in Chinese: 野象谷
- Address: Sancha Rive, Mengyang Town, Jinghong City， Xishuangbanna It is about 36 km away from Jinghong City. (西双版纳景洪市勐养镇三岔河, 距景洪市36千米 )
- Tel: 0691-2431024
- Opening Hours: 08:00-18:30
- How to get there: There are coaches at Cangshan Mountain (West Gate) to Xizhou Ancient Town.
Dai Ethnic Garden
Located in Ganlan Basin of Menghan County, the Dai Ethnic Garden is a national AAAA scenic spot. Travelers can experience Dai people's unique culture which is highlight of the garden. The garden is consisted of top 5 well-preserved Dai villages including Manjiang, Manchunman, Manting, Manzha and Manga. Travelers can not only enjoy beautiful natural scenery, but also make friends of hospitable Dai people and experience their unique culture. It is a great place to take part in Water-splashing Festival with large-scale celebrations.
- Name in Chinese: 傣族园
- Ticket: 50 CNY
- Opening hours： 08:00-18:00
- Address: Ganlanba, Jinghong City, Xishuangbanna(西双版纳景洪市橄榄坝)
- How to get there: There are buses running between Jinghong Fantaichang Coach Station (景洪翻胎厂客运站) to Menggan Bus Station (勐罕客运站) with a 30 to 40 minutes journey.
Manfeilong White Pagoda
Manfeilong White Pagoda is located in Manfeilong Village, 70 km away from Jinghong City, the capital of Xishuangbanna. With a nearly 1000 years history, the pagoda is a famous stupa complex in the area. It looks like bamboos shoots after the rain from a long distance view. The pagoda is a symbol of Dai people's culture and history. Where there are Dai people, there are pagodas. But Manfeilong White Pagoda's structure is unique in the area because of 9 stupas.
- Name in Chinese: 勐龙曼飞龙白塔
- Address: Located at the northern section of Manfeilong village in the city of Jinghong(西双版纳景洪市曼飞龙村)
- Ticket Price: 5 CNY
- Opening Time: 8:30 to 18:00
- How to get there: Travelers can take a bus from Jinghong City to Damenglong. Buses run every 30 minutes with a fare of 10 Yuan.
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