The Water-Splashing Festival (Poshuijie / 泼水节 in Chinese), is the New Year's or Spring Festival on the calendar of the Dai people, an ethnic group living in Yunnan's south and southwest. This year, the festival takes place from 13. to 15. April.
The first day of the celebrations is called “Mac” in Dai language, which is comparable to Spring Festival’s Eve. The second day is called “Wangnao”. During these two days, dragon boat races take place, markets are opend and floating lanterns are set on rivers, especially on the Mekong. The third day, called “Ba Wang Ma”, is the actual New Year’s Day. It is the most important and spectacular day of the 3-day celebration and thus treated as the most beautiful and auspicious day. In the morning, Dai people put on their festive costumes, bring water to the temple to bath Buddha, then start splashing each other for good luck.
The Water Splashing ceremony, however, is more than just good-natured fun, it also contains a religious element: by the Dai, water is regarded as a symbol, firstly, of religious purification, but also of goodwill among people. Therefore, splashing others with water during the ceremony, whether a close neighbor, a fellow villager or even a stranger is an expression of the desire for good luck and prosperity to that person.
A lot of visitors attend the Water-Splashing Festival in Xishuangbanna, where most of the Dai people live and the ceremonies are considered the greatest. Locals roam the streets with buckets and containers of water or filled water guns. Or they post themselves directly at the side of roads with a garden hose and drench each other.
Moreover, the free time during the festival is used to visit and show respects to elders, including family members, friends and neighbors. Many people also go to temples to pray and give food to monks. It is believed that doing so, will bring good luck and prosperity for the New Year.
Nowadays, the Water-Splashing Festival - not only in Thailand - is used as a party for people from all over and an additional reason for many tourists to visit the area for immersion into another culture. If you like to visit Xishuangbanna, don’t miss these days. This is the best time to experience the traditional Dai culture. Let us know if we can be of any support!