ASEAN water festivals bring region together

April 17, 2023 | 17:59
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The water festivals of Southeast Asia, which mark the end of the year and welcome a new beginning, are fantastic examples of the remarkable cultures of ASEAN countries, as well as promoting close collaboration within the region.
ASEAN water festivals bring region together

On April 14, 2023, C asean hosted a discussion on water festivals in ASEAN countries involving representatives from the embassies of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar in Vietnam.

Water festivals take place in Southeast Asia from April 13-16 yearly. The festivals mark the end of the year and welcome a new beginning. Despite the differences in names, the festivals of these countries have many similarities, with people splashing and sprinkling water on each other as a way to wish for a lucky and happy new year.

Opening the discussion, Nguyen Phuong Hoa, director general of the Department of International Cooperation of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, shared her best wishes to the people of the neighbouring countries of Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia on the occasion of the new year. “Water festivals are a pride of ASEAN culture. Our countries all have such diverse and colourful cultures that form important pillars in the region that help the ASEAN community come together as one under a multicultural and multiethnic roof with a common vision.”

Phan Minh Giang, director deputy general of the ASEAN Department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said,"Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand are close neighbours who have developed together and supported each other in the past, building peaceful, stable, collaborative growth within the ASEAN community."

"The cultural festivals of each member, including the water festivals of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, are part of the unique beauty of Southeast Asia," Giang added.

At the event, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to Vietnam, H.E. Nikorndej Balankura shared how important the Songkran Water Festival was for Thais, taking place over three days from April 13 to 15 every year. The meaning of Songkran lies in the hope of washing away the sadness of the previous year, while aiming for a positive new year full of luck for oneself and family.

Songkran is also an occasion to show respect, love, and gratefulness. The ambassador also said that this year, the Royal Thai Embassy collaborated with the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam to host a Songkran event in Hanoi and other activities in Ho Chi Minh City to celebrate the Thai New Year.

For Laotians, the traditional Water Festival Boun Pimai is most vibrant during the third day of the new year. Before splashing water, people usually give each other their best wishes. Laotian people believe that water helps to wash away bad luck and illness, and brings a new year of luck and health.

The celebration of this year’s Boun Pimai was hosted by the Embassy of the Laos PDR in Vietnam on April 11 in Hanoi, with several senior leaders in attendance. Several universities in Vietnam with Laotian students hosted celebrations for Boun Pimai and were joined by representatives from the embassy.

Joining the sharing, San San Yin, Second Secretary of the Embassy of Myanmar to Vietnam, shared her thoughts on the Thingyan Water Festival, the most important festival in Myanmar. This year, Thingyan was from April 14-16, with the New Year starting on April 17.

Nguyen Hai Son, a representative of C asean Vietnam, sais, “C asean Vietnam is the organisation's first branch outside of Thailand. Under Thai Beverage Public Co., Ltd. (ThaiBev), C asean is a non-profit aiming to create a platform to connect ASEAN communities, focusing on the three key pillars of sustainable business, talent development, and culture.”

“C asean frequently hosts activities that create conversations around the art and culture of Southeast Asia, seeing it as a common language to strengthen cooperation in the region,” Son added.

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