The Water-Splashing Festival far and wide reflects the Dai nationality’s traditions—folk worship, dance, music, food, costume and water culture. Dai ethnic minority of Xishuangbanna Prefecture holds this event in mid-April during the New Year festivities of the Dai Calendar. The celebration lasts for at least three days, sometimes up to a week.
The three-day festival is not only about fun: it includes carefree religious elements and rituals that invariably end in vivacity, everyone gets doused or splashed with water.
On the first two days, local people have a traditional Dai barbecue and organize the Dragon Boat Race on the Lancang River. An essential part of the cheerful atmosphere plays delicious food. Homemade gaosheng, for example. And dancing! A lot of dancing! During these celebrations, an outdoor market is set up for those who adore shopping or are just interested in purchasing some souvenirs. At night, the shores of the river are brightly illuminated, and the river itself is all dotted with lantern constellations. Floating lanterns are an old China ceremony which brings good fortune and flaps bad luck away.
The last day of the celebrations is the main one. The tradition has it, people should wear their best clothes and enter one of the local temples with the statue of Buddha in front of them. That’s where the religious ceremony is performed. People pray for the prosperity and good weather in the new year when a strange ritual 'Bathing the Buddha‘ has to happen: The Statue of Buddha is splashed with some water and then while splashing each other, people are exchanging wishes for happiness, luck and health. The merrymaking lasts from the morning until early evening and everyone is having a great time.
The main celebration takes place in the capital city of Xishuangbanna Prefecture—Jinghong, as well as nearby villages.