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Southeast Asia ushers in New Year with a splash


Published:

2024-04-17

Millions of people in Southeast Asia are celebrating the traditional New Year water festival, an important event on the Buddhist calendar.

Massive crowds thronged the streets of Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh as the four-day celebration of the Khmer New Year, or Choul Chnam Thmey, began on Saturday.

In a message, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet sent his best wishes with a reaffirmed commitment to bolstering growth and prosperity despite global uncertainty.

"May the Year of the Dragon bring all Cambodian people with the five gems of Buddhist blessing: longevity, nobility, happiness, strength and wisdom," he said.

The Chinese embassy in Cambodia also extended its greetings to the Cambodian people.

In Laos, the water festival, known as Pi Mai Lao, was celebrated from Saturday to Thursday.

On the occasion of the Lao New Year, Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith extended his best wishes to people across the country, as well as Lao citizens abroad and expatriates in Laos.

Thongloun was among those celebrating the Songkran New Year parade in Luang Prabang in the country's north on Sunday, during which he dipped a branch into the scented water of flowers and sprinkled water on the guests as a gesture of blessings.

Zhang Sheping, Chinese consul general in Luang Prabang, followed the local custom to sprinkle water to express his wishes and respect.

The Chinese embassy in Laos sent greetings to the Lao people and overseas Chinese in the country.

In Myanmar, despite continuing domestic conflict, people are celebrating the water festival, known as Thingyan, from Saturday to Tuesday. The Myanmar New Year falls on Wednesday.

In Thailand's capital Bangkok, this year's Songkran celebrations were held between Thursday and Monday with many parades. There were also cultural performances in five other major locations around the country.

The Chinese embassy in Thailand uploaded a video on its official WeChat account showing China's Ambassador to Thailand Han Zhiqiang and other embassy staff members spraying water, singing songs and performing Thai dances to celebrate the festival.

Songkran promotes community cooperation, unity and forgiveness, said Bhokin Bhalakula, former speaker of the Thai Parliament.

"The happiness of Songkran is not only enjoyed by Thai people but also people in Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and the southwest part of China. The occasion brings us even closer with such cultural connections," said Bhokin, who is also chairman of the Thai-Chinese Cultural Promotion and Development Association. "With some differences, we live in peace and share some beliefs in common. It's so beautiful like a garden with various colors of flowers."