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The Water-splashing Festival

2017-12-08 16:18:36 作者:张跃等 信息来源:中外节庆网


The Water-splashing Festival


Authors /Zhang Yue, Xu Zijun, Han Rongfang

Translator/Wang Yanfang

Reviser/Wang Zhuqing

Publish/Anhui People’s Publishing House



In mid-April of the solar calendar every year, the grandest traditional festival, the Water-splashing Festival, will be held in Southeast Asia, South Asia and such minorities as Dai, De’ang, Achang, Bulang and part of Va and Jingpo. During the festival, people get up early in the morning, bathe themselves and pay respect to the Buddha, and then celebration activities that will last for several days start. People splash clean water on each other, praying to wash away the bad fortune of the past year and wishing all the best in the New Year.

The Water-splashing Festival adds a flowery color to the festival painting of China. In the process of its spread, people have gradually combined it with the various myths and legends of their nationalities, and attached to it more magical connotation and national color. Around their hopes on water, people have launched a series of activities as sacrifice, singing and dancing, music, sports, entertainment, leisure, commerce and trade, during which their kernel culture such as language, costume, diet and marriage get fully displayed. Under the background of culture protection and inheritance and tourism development, and with its spread and communication in various regions and nationalities, the Water-splashing Festival has become a carnival festival and cultural symbol shared by all ethnic groups and tourists.

This book, with detailed information and popular plain text, combining historical records, legends and anecdotes, living customs and festival images, presents to readers all aspects of the Water-splashing Festival culture.


2)Introduction of The Water-splashing Festival

   Viewed from the vast space, the earth is a bluish water ball. Water is the most widely distributed precious natural resource of the planet, and also a material condition for human survival. Water is the source of life, the matrix of life breeding and the support of all life; from the very beginning, it has formed a kind of indissoluble bound with human life and cultural history. Throughout the world cultural origins, it was the gushing waterflow of the Nile that gave birth to the brilliant ancient Egyptian civilization, the surging Euphrates that witnessed the rise and fall of the kingdom of Babylon, the beautiful blue Mediterranean that created the colorful ancient Greek culture, and the Yangtze River and Yellow River flowing in the east that moistened the Chinese civilization that remain today.

   Water is the source of all things, and its feats are worthy of numerous eulogies and monuments. But it is “with its light, with its dust”, flowing where it is low, gathering at the depressions, and the deeper it goes, the quieter it becomes. Once waters are integrated, they will work shoulder to shoulder, arm in arm, in one direction, in one step, sticking together in life and death with no power to separate them. They gather into rivers and sea, vast and misty, swinging the present and cleaning the past; embracing the wind, they can arouse waves; combining with the land, they become part of the land, and combining with life, they become part of the life; they always change with time, like the dew of the night and the mist in the morning; they become rain in summer and snow in winter, transforming into vapor or ice under different temperatures. This noble character of tranquility, optimism and modesty is harmonious, lovely and fantastic.

   Lao Zi praised the generosity of water with the saying that the top virtue is water, benefiting everything but striving for nothing. Confucius marveled that the wise love water, while the benevolent prefer mountains; the wise enjoy activities, while the benevolent remain quiet; the wise are happy, while the benevolent live long. Water is soft but can overcome firmness; it is quiet but can affect other things; it can move and change, and keep pace with the time; this is the wisdom of water. Water can sacrifice itself to clean all things; it is uncompetitive, does not shift the blame, nourishes all things, and breeds life; this is the virtue of water. In China, water culture also exists in a variety of forms, and the Water-splashing Festival is one of the most typical and well-known representations. “Splash” in the dictionary means “to pour the water to disperse”. This simple action, after combining with the material carrier of “water” and being endowed with a variety of custom etiquette, cultural belief and economic activities, has been naturally added colorful connotations and character, and become a cultural symbol beyond simple action shared by different peoples.

   The English name “the Water-splashing Festival” originated from India, which was once a religious ritual of Brahmanism. Later it was absorbed by Buddhism and introduced into China via  Burma. In China, it has become one of the most influencial and most participated traditional festivals in minorities of Yunnan Province. In addition to the most representative Dai Water-splashing Festival, this festival also has a special meaning to Achang, De’ang, Bulang and Va nationality that believe in Southern Sect of Buddhism. Besides, Water-splashing Festival is also a traditional festival of Thai ethnic groups and Southeast Asia. On the day of the festival, people in Thailand, Laos, Burma, Cambodia, and overseas Dai/Thai groups rise early in the morning, bathe themselves and pay respect to the Buddha, and then start the celebrations lasting for several days. During the period, people splash clean water on each other, praying to wash away the misfortunes of the past year.

   As a result of the wide spread of the Water-splashing Festival, it has different names in different ethnic groups of different countries and regions. For example, the Dai nationality of Xishuangbanna and Dehong region in Yunnan Province of China respectively call it “Sangkan Bimai” (ie, New Year), “Shanghan” or “Shangjian”; De’ang nationality calls it “Hongpai”, meaning “Festival of Bathing the Buddha”; Achang nationality calls it “Flower-watering  Festival”; Thailand, Laos and Cambodia call it “Songkran”; it is called “Mohedingjian” in the Burmese language, meaning “great transition” or “great shift”.

   There are rich and colorful activities to celebrate the Water-splashing Festival in different regions, mainly including bathing the Buddha, chanting sutras, Danfo (offering sacrifice to the Buddha), freeing captive animals, splashing water, dancing Peacock Dance, dancing Elephant-foot Drum Dance, letting off Gaosheng, flying Kongming lanterns, piling up sand, tossing embroidered parcels, dragon boat racing, whipping tops, cockfighting and so on. The Water-splashing Festival also fully presents different ethnic groups’ rich culture and customs of costume, diet and religion, unfolding a colorful picture of Chinese festival culture.


The traditional water splashing of Dai nationalityMenghai, Yunnan Province

3)Brief Introduction to the Authors


Zhang Yue, a Han nationality born in June 1958, is from Gejiu, Yunnan Province. He serves as professor and tutor, working as a Party-affair leader of Ethnic Group Studies Department of Yunnan University and deputy president of Yunnan Nationality Studies Institution. Meanwhile, he shoulders the post of part-time researcher in Chinese Minority Research Center of Minzu University of China, and licensed researcher in Ethical Policy and Theory Research Base of Yunnan Publicity Department; he is also appointed executive director of China South West Nationality Research Board, deputy director of National Festival Celebration Committee of China Anthropology and Nationality Research Board. Prof. Zhang mainly conducts research on Chinese minorities in the South West, National culture and economy, and festivals and holidays. 



Xu Zijun, born in November 1991, the Yi nationality, a native of Chuxiong, Yunnan Province, is a graduate from Ethnology and Sociology College, Yunnan University. And she mainly studies intangible cultural heritage protection.


Han Rongfang, born in August 1988, the Han nationality, a native of Nanyang, Henan Province, is a graduate from  Ethnology and Sociology College, Yunnan University. And she mainly studies national festival culture.




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