The Mon State government will spend 500 lakhs ($37,000) for the upcoming water festival or Thingyan. That is nearly six times as much as the 86 lakhs the state spent last year, according to the General Administration Department.
For many people the stages, locally known as Mandat, are central to the celebration of Thingyan, featuring performances and the spraying of large amounts of water over hot crowds. The extra funding will be used to build a larger central stage in the state’s capital Mawlamyine, formerly known as Moulmein, according to U Myint Than Win, Director of General Administration Department.
“Last year 85 lakhs was not nearly enough for the program, so we had to seek funding from outside sources. This year we’re allocating 500 lakhs so we don’t have to look for other sources of funding,” he said.The money will be used to build and pay for the four days of programming at the central stage. The program will include opening and closing ceremonies, prizes for traditional dance groups, gifts for the elderly and, of course, lots of water.
“The central stage has always been so crowded—people couldn’t even move. So it is good that they planing to spend more than they did the last few years” said one young Mawlamyine resident.
Last year Mawlamyine hosted 17 stages, and the state government says that there will be a similar number this year. Set Se Beach in Thanbyuzayat Township is Mon State’s most popular Water Festival destination, though many people go to Mawlamyine City, Kyaikmaraw Town and Yogo Village for New Year’s Day, the last day of the festival.
Thingyan represents New Years in the Burmese calendar, and many offices and businesses close for the days surrounding the holiday. It occurs at the hottest time of the year and in many places anyone caught out on the street may be liable to a thorough soaking.