Water splashing festival

Dai people are one of 56 officially recognized national minorities in China. According to the official statistics there are 1,158,989 Dai people. Most of them live in the south of Yunnan province located in the southwest of China.

Dai woman
Dai woman

The central celebration of the Water splashing festival or “Festival of bathing the Buddha” is held in Jinghong, the capital city of Xishuangbanna prefecture, and nearby villages. The festival is organized in mid-April. It lasts for three days. This festival is actually Dai New Year celebration.

On the first day local people organize the Dragon Boat Race on the Lancang (Mekong) River. The audience enjoy themselves dancing and preparing traditional Dai barbecue. Very important part of the joyful atmosphere are homemade bamboo rockets called gaosheng.

On the second day there is a big city parade with numerous colourful floats. Traditional music and dances are performed. In the afternoon everyone gathers in the Manting Park. There are different music shows. People enjoy in local delicacies. In the evening there are lot of people on banks of the Lancang (Mekong) river. There they set off the paper hot air Kongming balloons for good luck. Many small candle rafts are released down the river. There are beautiful fireworks too.

Water splashing festival
Water splashing festival

The main event is held on the last day. People wearing their best clothes go to one of local temples. Three to five pagoda-shaped sand piles are made. On top of each one eight bamboo twigs are planted. They are decorated with some red and green strips. Religious ceremony is performed. People pray for the good weather and prosperous new year. The statue of Buddha is taken in front of the temple. There it is splashed with some water. This ritual is called “Bathing the Buddha”. After that people start splashing each other. Wishes for luck, health and personal happiness are exchanged. Everyone is having a great time. The party lasts from early morning until about 6 pm.