Water Splash Festival is the most ceremonious traditional festival of the Dai minority, it takes place in mid-April after Qingming Festival. Usually three days celebration in Jinghong first, then other counties and villages have their celebration events. Today, with improved high way transportation and flight access, this festival attract many tourists every year, the whole city fill up with people, double up hotel room price, bring more business to restaurants or food booths.
My sister has some health issues, she checked in hospital to get fully check up, right after we buried mom’s ashes. It happened to be the festival time, so her two daughters and I stayed with her in hospital. There were three beds in her room and she was the only patient stay in there at night, so that room became our room.
First night of the festival, people gathered by Mekong river, let off Kongming lamp and river lamp. The hospital is near the river, we took my two nieces to see it, we also bought some Kongming lamps and let them off. It made of very thin rice paper and a wire ring on the base, a square of fuel. Light up the fuel, wait the hot air fill up the lamp then let it fly away.
The next day morning, I took my nieces to see parade, it’s very colorful. If you ask me, is it the only time people dress up like these? The answer is no, you always can see people with their colorful clothes, except they are not usually in a big group like these.
The third day was the Water Splash day, from 10am to 5pm. On the street, people had bucket, basin, water scoop, water gun, splash water to each other. To Dai people, water is a symbol of sanctity, beauty and brightness. Splashing or dousing each other with water, is an expression of the desire for good luck and prosperity to that person, but now for most people, it became a good-nature fun festival.
When we were young, we waited by the road and splashed water to people passing by, used the water from the stream right by the road. I only had one time experience of spending Water Splashing Festival in the city.
At that time, I was working in a hotel, which was newly opened hotel, hired and trained most of young people. That day we gathered about 20 people, about 6 girls, rest were boys. We walked from the hotel to the center of the city where the main activity was held. Fire truck hauled water, drove around the city, provided water to people. Wherever we went, people splashed water to us friendly, smaller group didn’t want to start a water fight with us. We girls were well protected by our group boys, we really had fun that day.
This time, only my sister and I with my two nieces, we didn’t even want to be in town. Sometimes people get carry away by their excitement, single or small group girls or women easily become a target, things can go really wrong. So we left the city and back to home in that morning.