The Water-Sprinkling festival is a traditional festival of the Dai minority which falls the celebration of the Lunar New Year, it usually takes place in April. It isthe most important festival observed by the Dai ethnic people of the Xishuangbanna Prefecture and it involves three days of celebrations that include sincere but at the same time light-hearted religious rituals.
The first two days of celebration take place on the banks of the Lancang River. On the first day, a great celebration marks the beginning of the festival. Alongside there is an out-door market. On the Lancang River a dragon boat race is held in order to ring out the old year. At night, the banks of the river are lit and local people float lanterns on the river, this practice is thought to drive bad luck away and bring good luck.
The third day is the climax of the event, is the day of water splashing. The Dai people put on their best clothes, then they meet at the local Buddhist temple, where the monks intone Buddhist scriptures. Afterward, symbolic water splashing ritual is acted nearby a Buddhist statue. This ritual is called “Bathing the Buddha”. Then people flock to the streets with pots, pans, bottles, where they splash, spray and douse each other with water.
Of course it is more than just fun, it also contains a religious element, since water is regarded by the Dai as a symbol of religious purification and of goodwill among people.
by Carolina Giannessi