Deang Water-Splashing Festival

Deang festivals are similar to those of the Dai. Many of them have some connection with Buddhism. Every year, they celebrate "Jinwa" (Close-the-Door, which means "Buddha going into the temple"), "Chuwa" (Open-the-Door, which means "Buddha coming out of the temple") and the Water-Splashing Festival, which is also a big event in Buddhist countries such as Thailand and Myanmar.

The Water-Splashing Festival of the Deang people is usually celebrated in mid April and lasts three to five days. Marking the beginning of the new year, it is similar to water-splashing festivals held in Buddhist countries such as Thailand and Myanmar. Before the festival, people prepare new clothes, miba (a sort of food made of rice), a water dragon, and buckets and other containers for water.

Buddhists gather in a temple to build a cottage and a water dragon that assists them in washing the dust off the temple's Buddha statue. In the morning they march into the temple, listen to Buddhism sermons and sing prayers. Then, they build a pagoda with sand near the temple, and carry the statue into the cottage, which is built in the temple, and perform the ritual of washing it.

The Buddhists pour the clearest water into the dragon. This water then flows from its mouth along a bamboo gullet and splashes all over the statue. Then, a respected old man dips a bunch of flowers into the water and then splashes the water to the crowd around. This is a blessing of the new year to everyone. Then, everyone gets excited and congratulates each other that a new year is coming. To the sound of songs and elephant-foot drums, young men raise buckets of water over their head and pour water onto the hands of the old, wishing them happiness and health.

The old, then, try to hold the water with their hands, and say words of blessing to the young. Then, they line up in a long queue behind the elephant-foot drums and throng to waters beside the springs and rivers, celebrating the festival by singing, dancing, chasing and splashing water to each other. Water is regarded as a symbol of purity, good luck and blessing. Splashing water all around, everyone enjoys the festival.

The Water Splashing Festival is not only a festival that celebrates the New Year, but also provides a good opportunity for young men and women to court one another. Unlike the Dai who "throw bags" when courting, the Deangs have a custom of presenting bamboo baskets, which is often performed by a young man who has found a lover. The young man often makes several baskets before the festival, and presents them to the girls he likes.

To the girls he likes the most he gives the prettiest basket that he has woven to show his love, and to see her response. A girl may receive several baskets. If she likes a particular boy she carries it on Water-splashing Day. On Water-splashing Day the boys looking around to see if any girls at all the baskets very carefully to see whether the girl is carrying their baskets. When he discovers his own, he splashes water on the girl, which is returned happily with full joy.

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