China Water-Splashing Festival

Written by Sally Guo Updated Jun. 18, 2021

In 2025, the Water Splashing Festival will take place on April 13, 2025, and continue to April 15. The Festival lasts 3 days. 

water splashing festival

Water-splashing Festival is the most solemn festival for the Dai people in Yunnan Province in southwest China. It is Dai' New Year held from the 13th to 16th of the 4th month of the 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 Dai's language like Chinese New Year's Eve. The second day is called "Naori" or "Kongri" in Thai and the third day is called "Bimai" which means the New Year of the Dai people. The third day is the happiest and most propitious day throughout the whole year.

It is the grandest festival celebrated by most minorities among ethnic people in Yunnan. Dai people and De'ang people celebrate the festival. Besides, there are celebrations of the Water-splashing Festival in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand the world.

Origin of Water-Splashing Festival

Dai people in the Dehong area of Xishuangbanna called the Water-splashing Festival "Shangkran" or "Shangjian" which originated from Buddhist culture.

The festival from India was an ancient ritual ceremony of Brahmanism which is adopted by Buddhism. It is introduced into the Dai area in Yunnan Province through Burma during the late 12th century and the early 13th century. Due to the influence of Buddhism, the Water-splashing festival becomes a national custom to hand down. With a long history, the festival plays an important role in the Dai people's life. Nowadays, it is the grandest festival for Dai and a festival attracting numerous travelers from around the world.

Where to Celebrate Water-splashing Festival?

Dai people's Water-splashing Festival is reputed as the "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 rainforest climate so the best time to visit is from October to June in the next year. But the Water-splashing Festival around the middle of April attracts hundreds of travelers from around the world. Additionally, travelers can experience the Dai people's culture, explore its tropical rainforest, and possibly see elephants in Wild Elephant Valley in Xishuangbanna.

How to Celebrate the Water-splashing Festival?

The whole celebration of the Water-splashing Festival lasts 3 days. The main celebrations of the first two days are held on the banks of the Lancang River. There are a lot of outdoor shops set 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 attention.

Dragon Boat Racing

In addition, there is a dragon boat race held along the Lancang River in the afternoon on the first day. Travelers can also see local people lighting lanterns on the river in the evening. Local people believe that lighting 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 in the newest and best festival clothes get together in the Buddhist temples with clean water. After monks chant the Buddhist scriptures, the Dai people start to wash the Buddha with water. So the festival is also called the "Bathing Buddha Festival".

Splashing Water to Each Other

Water is luck with their best wishes for the New Year. And then people splash water on every person 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 to 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 the Dai people's area, Xishuangbanna Primitive Forest Park is a good choice for tropical rain forests and the Dai people's local culture. 98% of the park is covered with various precious tropical plants. Due to the great rainforest, the park is an animal kingdom to see lots of animals including peacocks, monkeys, and unique pangolins and lizards. Local ethnic culture is another highlight of the park. It is a good place to be lost in the jungle for a leisure journey.

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. A lot of travelers around the world just head to the valley because of its wild elephants. The park is made up of performing elephants, a peacock garden, a butterfly greenhouse, and a tropical rainforest. 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.

Dai Ethnic Garden

Located in the 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 the highlight of the garden. The garden consists of the top 5 well-preserved Dai villages including Manjiang, Manchunman, Manting, Manzha, and Manga. Travelers can not only enjoy the beautiful natural scenery but also make friends with hospitable Dai people and experience their unique culture. It is a great place to take part in the Water-splashing Festival with large-scale celebrations.

Manfeilong White Pagoda

Manfeilong White Pagoda is located in Manfeilong Village, 70 km away from Jinghong City, the capital of Xishuangbanna. With nearly 1000 years of history, the pagoda is a famous stupa complex in the area. It looks like bamboo shoots after the rain from a long-distance view. The pagoda is a symbol of the 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.

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