A Buddhist Tradition: Boating Through Bago Paddy Fields

July 16, 2014

People make offerings to the statue of Kamae Phyin Bo Bo Gyi . (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

People make offerings to the statue of Kamae Phyin Bo Bo Gyi . (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

KA WA, Bago Division — Once every year, this sleepy provincial town in Bago Division sees a throng of visitors.

Under cloudy skies on the Full Moon Day of Waso, thousands of Buddhists from Rangoon and the divisional capital Bago descend upon the town of Ka Wa to pay homage to Khamae Pyin Bo Bo Gyi, a local guardian spirit long believed to offer blessings of safety, prosperity and good health.

The town is about 22 miles from Bago, and when visitors arrive for the holiday, they look forward to another joyous activity: throwing water at each other during a boat-ride through flooded paddy fields on the way to the guardian spirit’s shrine.

Though the shrine is accessible by road, young people especially prefer to park their cars along the road a few miles away. Instead of driving, they hire small wooden boats to navigate the fields that are already overflowing with monsoon rains, playfully splashing each other along the way.

“As far as I’m concerned, there is no specific relation between the festival and water throwing,” one of the festival-goers explained during the boat trip.

“You are on a boat, around you there is lot of water and people. We throw water at each other just for fun,” he said.

Another young girl chimed in: “That’s why we left our car beside the road!”

For more photos, follow the [link].

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