Water-Splashing Festival of Dai and De’ang Ethnic Groups
Water-Splashing Festival is held seven days after Tomb-sweeping Festival. It has the implications of bathing Buddha, celebrating the New Year, and praying for rainfall, good health of both people and livestock, and an abundant harvest of all food crops. In the circle of Hinayana followers, it is the grandest festival and the one with ethnic characteristics.
Traditionally, the festival lasts three days. People usually see off the past on the first day, free on the second day and ring in new days on the third day. On the eve of the festival, Dai people like to make New Year cake in the following steps. First, mix sticky rice, brown sugar, sesame seed and peanut, wrap them with plantain leaves, and then steam them. On the first day of the festival, young people go together to mountainous area to pick up flowers amid the boisterous sound of drums and gongs. These flowers are used to decorate Buddhist temples and dragon pavilions. They can exchange New Year cakes as present, dip flower twig or tree branches in water, then spray the water toward each other for blessing. On the second day, people are well dressed after having bath. They gather together to attend the ceremony of Water-Splashing Festival by beating drums and gongs, singing and dancing. First, the Dai people pure barrels of water into the belly of the dragon statue. The water outflow through the mouth of the dragon drives waterwheel to rotate and gently spray glittering water on the Buddha statue. After the fires of solute come crescendos of music. Then, people begin to splash water toward each other for blessing. On the third day, people go from village to village to splash water to each other. They can be watered from head to feet because they think that wetter they are, happier they are.
Water-Splashing Festival is also a traditional festival of the De’ang ethnic group. It is also held in the seven day after Tomb-sweeping Festival and lasts three days. During the festival, well dressed De’ang people draw clean water from wells and then carry the water, some food and a bunch of flower of the Buddhist temples in their villages. The ceremony of the festival is presided by a Buddhist leader of good moral standing and undisputed reputation. He will also address the crowds. Then, young man beat the “elephant-leg” drums and dance, while young women follow the drumbeats to perform “duisha dance”. Other people will lift bamboo tube full of water above their head, then drop the water to the gutter in engraved dragon and painting Buddhist scripture to bath the Buddha statue. The move is adopted to show their gratitude toward the favors of ancestors and wish for a favorable weather in the coming year. De’ang people will rush to take the water dropping from Buddha statue. They drink the water or wash face or hand, in hope that they can keep away illness and has an auspicious experience. (Source: Tourism Bureau of Dehong Prefecture)