Update: 2008-09-13 07:50 AM +0800

TIL

Folk Elements in Burmese Buddhism

new-yr-thai.htm

Maung Htin Aung. Printed and published by U Myint Maung, Deputy Director, Regd: No (02405/02527) at the Religious Affairs Dept. Press. Yegu, Kaba-Aye P.O., Rangoon, BURMA. 1981.

Set in HTML by the staff of TIL and edited by U Kyaw Tun, M.S. (I.P.S.T., U.S.A.). Not for sale. Prepared for students of TIL Computing and Language Center, Yangon, MYANMAR.

indx-myan | Top
indx-folk

Contents of this page
Appendix
Feast of the New Year in Thailand
Footnotes

UKT notes
 

Contents of this page
p038

03 APPENDIX
Feast of the New Year in Thailand

It may be mentioned that according to the Chronicles the Pyus {pyu} used the Buddhist era, but abandoned it in favour of their own Pyu era in A.D. 78, and the Burmese at Pagan first used the Pyu era but abandoned it in favour of a new era, known as the Pagan or Burmese era, in A.D. 638. After Anawrahta had come to the throne of Pagan in A.D. 1044, the Burmese became the dominant race in the Indo-Chinese Peninsula and, after 1056, Pagan became the new centre of Buddhism. As a result, the Burmese era and the Burmese calendar were introduced to other countries in the region. It is not surprising, therefore, that the people of Laos celebrate their New Year exactly in the same way as the Burmese do and they have the same Burmese legend, customs and beliefs regarding the New Year. In Thailand, also, the New Year is celebrated in the same Burmese way fn038-01 and the Thais call the feast the Songkran Feast, and Songkran is the Thai variant of the Burmese term 'Thingyan'.

However, there have been certain modifications in the intervening centuries. According to the Thai version of the New Year legend a young wise man was set some riddles by the Red God, and the wager was to cut off the head of the loser. At first the young man could not solve the riddles, but he discovered the solutions by listening to the conversation of some eagles. So the god lost the wager and in shame cut off his own head. The god's seven daughters were charged with the task of keeping the flaming head, and these goddesses took it to a cave in the abode of the gods. But, at the time of every New Year, one of the seven daughters takes the flaming [{p039}] head from the cave and carries it in procession, attended by all gods and goddesses. After the procession is over the head is returned to the cave. Thus, the time of the Burmese 'descent' coincides with the time of the head being taken out of the cave, the Burmese period of 'sojourn' with the period of the procession, and the Burmese time of 'ascent' with the time of the head being put back in the cave.

Again, with the Thais, it is neither the King of the Gods nor the god of the Sunday planet who appears riding on an animal during the Songkran period: it is that  goddess among the seven whose task is to take out the head and carry it in procession for that particular New Year. The Thai legend makes no mention of the Red God coming back to life with an elephant's head.

Contents of this page

Footnotes

fn038-01 In Laos and Thailand, the feast is an occasion for merry-making and horseplay. Fishes are also freed. But there is no throwing of water. fn038-01b

 

Contents of this page

UKT notes

 

Contents of this page
End of TIL file