Ban Eased on Party Stages for Thingyan Water Festival

By Tin Htet Paing 23 March 2017

RANGOON — A ban will be eased on for-profit pavilions in Rangoon during the Thingyan water festival this April, though the structures will be confined to private areas, among other regulations, according to the regional government.

Naw Pann Thinzar Myo, the Rangoon government’s Karen Ethnic Affairs Minister, told the media at the regional parliament on Thursday that pavilions would only be allowed in private spaces during the Burmese New Year’s festivities, which take place from April 13 to 16.

The stages will be barred from Kabar Aye Pagoda Road, Kan Pat Lane and Inya Road, said the minister, adding that the scrutinizing body would review the applications based on the locations’ neighborhoods and traffic concerns in the areas.

The Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) announced another 45 regulations on Wednesday for those who seek permission to run the lucrative pavilions, which include music and water hoses for revelers to enjoy during Thingyan.

People who want to run pavilions will have to submit applications for pavilions to the committee by March 25, said U Than, secretary of the regional government’s Water Festival Celebration and Pavilions Scrutinizing Committee, in a statement.

“The number of permitted pavilions will depend on the number of applications and whether they abide by the rules,” he said.

Pavilions have to install CCTV and report the footage to authorities by 8 p.m. each day, according to the regulations.

Large stages are limited to 120x40x20 feet and medium-sized stages to 99x30x16 feet, with 20,000,000 kyats (US$14,500) and 10,000,000 kyats ($7,300) respectively to be deposited with YCDC’s Engineering Department (Roads and Bridges). The money will be returned in May.

Accepted applicants who resell or transfer their permits will be fined 5,000,000 kyats ($3,650) for large pavilions and 3,000,000 kyats ($2,200) for smaller stages. They should also finish building the pavilions by April 10.

Mandalay municipal committee member U Kyaw Yin Myint told the media in January that the committee would impose a partial ban on for-profit pavilions in Mandalay and would restrict pavilions that block views of the city walls and moat.

Last year, Rangoon chief minister U Phyo Min Thein banned all for-profit pavilions during the holiday, encouraging the public to reflect on Burmese tradition and culture during the celebration, and, he said, not focus on drinking alcohol, playing loud music, or instigating trouble.

Some critics say the festivities became unruly in the past, citing illicit activities such as drug use taking place behind pavilions.

Irrawaddy reporter Moe Myint contributed to this report.