Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.


In photos: Southeast Asia celebrates the new year with amazing water festivals

Every spring, the world’s largest street water fight takes place in countries across Southeast Asia.

In Theravada Buddhist countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos, April 13th marks the beginning of the traditional calendar. People traditionally celebrate by going to temples and visiting family during the annual public holiday. But since April is one of the hottest months in Southeast Asia, some countries celebrate with a several days long water festival.

The water festivals are one of the biggest celebrations in Southeast Asia as streets turn into watery battlefields as adults and children alike try their boast to soak anyone in sight. But it's more than just a water fight, as splashing water symbolizes washing away bad luck and inviting a new beginning. 

Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, as well as Yunnan, China celebrate the new year with these epic festivals. These photos show the excitement and merrymaking that the water festival brings to the Buddhist new year in Southeast Asia.

1)  Families visit temples and pour water over Buddha statues on the morning of the new year.

2) Thailand's water festival, known as Songkran, attracts more than half a million tourists a year.

A photo posted by Lisa (@rambelingsoul) on

3) People take to the streets for Songkran in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

photos-southeast-asia-new-year-water-festival-Body 2.jpgImage: Flickr: Ben Reeves

4) Elephants take part in the fun too!

5) Water guns are the most popular choice for shooting water, but buckets are fine as well.

photos-southeast-asia-new-year-water-festival-Body 1.jpgImage: Flickr: Ben Reeves

6) It's ok to douse anyone in sight, even strangers.

photos-southeast-asia-new-year-water-festival- Body 3.jpgImage: Flickr: Ben Reeves

7) Young monks prepare for new year celebrations.

A photo posted by Ruth Williams (@eilis_ruth) on

8) Passerbys get drenched as they travel during Burmese New Year, or Thingyan. 

photos-southeast-asia-new-year-water-festival- Body 4.jpgImage: Flickr: Theis Kofoed Hjorth

9) People splash water in front of the Sule Pagoda in downtown Yangon.

A photo posted by Kirsten Henton (@kirstenjh) on

10) The Dai ethnic minority that live in Yunnan, China also have a water festival to celebrate the Dai New Year.

11) Fireworks take place in Xishuangbanna prefecture before the start of the Dai water festival.

A photo posted by Lu Bai (@ichihanaa) on

12) Water jets spray down on the streets of Yangon, Myanmar.

13) A Burmese traditional dancer performs a peacock dance during the opening ceremony of Thingyan.

A photo posted by The Telegraph (@telegraph) on

14) A girl throws water at revelers.

photos-southeast-asia-new-year-water-festival- Body 5.jpgImage: Wikimedia: Htoo Tay Zar

15) A school celerates the Lao New Year.

The celebrations go on for days and while some are more well-known then others, all these water festivals are worth experiencing. What started as a purification ritual of pouirng water in Buddhist ceremonies has into incredible, nation-wide water fights that involved locals and visitors. Whether it's called Songkran in Thailand or Thingyan in Myanmar, the water festival is a time of joy and a great way to cool off.