Foreign Diplomats, U.N. Officials to Take in Traditional Thingyan in Mandalay

By Zarni Mann 10 April 2019

MANDALAY — U.N. officials and foreign diplomats posted in Myanmar are for the first time scheduled to enjoy this year’s traditional water festival over four days in Mandalay, the cultural capital of the country.

“Their participation will be a first in the city’s history because the diplomats usually enjoy the festival in Yangon and in Naypyitaw as an official event,” said U Kyaw San Myint, who sits on the festival committee of the Mandalay City Development Committee (MCDC).

Whether in Yangon or Naypyitaw, the diplomats would attend the official opening event where Myanmar’s top government officials cut a ribbon and splash each other with water.

“Since we are trying to revive the old Thingyan festival in Mandalay with walking paths and traditional ways of throwing water at each other, we heard that the diplomats wanted to experience it. So the government decided to invite them to Mandalay to participate in the official opening ceremony and stay in the city for the festival,” U Kyaw San Myint said.

He said the diplomats and U.N. officials and their families can experience a traditional Thingyan festival near the old palace, where there will be a country-style Thingyan market offering traditional Burmese snacks and dances.

“We are very proud and happy that their visit will somehow promote our Mandalay Thingyan, which we want to be a landmark and a major tourist attraction,” U Kyaw San Myint said.

In recent years, Thingyan in Mandalay has featured pavilions with water cannons and DJs. Though they drew many revelers from across the country, they have also been heavily criticized for breaking with tradition, all the more so for doing so in Myanmar’s cultural capital.

To revive the old ways, the MCDC, under the leadership of a new mayor, in 2017 began a traditional walkway along the southern palace wall. The following year the city added a night walk that also featured outdoor screenings of old films.