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Water Splashing Festival

The Water Splashing Festival is the grand ceremonial occasion for the Dai, the De'ang and the Achang nationalities who believe in Theravada Buddhism. It is also known as the Festival for bathing Lord Buddha. It was once a religious ceremony in Indian Brahmanism and then absorbed by Buddhism and passed to the Dai region in Yunnan Province via Burma.
At present, the Water Splashing Festival is a traditional festival for the Dai people in Xishuangbanna and other places.

On that day, Dai People without reference to age and sex will get dressed up and shoulder clean water to the Buddhist Temple. They will first bathe the Buddha and then begin to splash water with one another for wishing luck, happiness and health to celebrate the New Year. In the eye of the Dai People, water is a symbol of sanctity, beauty and brightness. Only water can help everything on the earth grow, so water is the god of life. People splash water onto each other as a symbol of benediction. The more water one is splashed with, the more luck he/she receives, and the happier he/she will be. Dai People will also invite people from other ethnic minorities and tourists coming from afar to splash water to celebrate the festival.

Additionally, there are some other conventions such as Dragon Boat Race, Release of Paper-made River Boat, Peacock Dancing and Cockfighting, firing of indigenous missiles, dances to the accompaniment of the beating of drums on a pedestal shaped like an elephant’s legs, sightseeing, country fairs. During the festival pouches are tossed between unmarried men and women as tokens of love.

There's a story about the origin of Water Splashing Festival. The legend has it that there once lived a demon king who was wreaking havoc in Xishuangbanna by taking seven young women as his wives against their will. The women finally rose in rebellion and killed the demon king, thereby ridding the area of a scourge. However, the chopped head of the demon king kept rolling, causing fire in its trail, and the fire could be put out only when one of the women held it in her arms. Thus the seven women took turns holding the demon head once a year. When one woman’s turn was over, the local people would splash water on her, so as to rinse her of the blood and expel the evil spirits out of her; the gesture was also an expression of gratitude for the women for keeping the local people from harm’s way. With the passing of time, the demon king’s head was finally burned to ashes. Splashing water on each other, however, has gradually evolved into part of local custom.

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