Thingyan, Texas StyleThis last month took me to several Buddhist monasteries. One in particular was the *Lien Hoa Buddhist Temple and Monastery in Irving Texas who hosted ‘Thingyan’ for the Burmese community. The event was lead by the Venerable Silar Nanda who presided over the activities, known as the water festival or New Years Celebration. And it was quite an event indeed.
I could not attend all the Thingyan celebrations I was invited to but I am truly glad I made this event. It did not matter from what quarter one resided within the Burmese community smiles and the feeling of joy was universal. Though I was filming the event I did manage to enjoy the traditional foods of Burma and that was a tasty treat to behold. They put on the feed bag Texas Style. Guess you could say the food earned a 5 star rating since there was a variety of ethnic classics to dine on and dine I did.
Nothing like a good ole Buddhist gathering to lift ones spirits and this gathering was no exception. I was there early and you could feel the energy in the air as people began to arrive and it was very heartening to note that everyone pitched in. What I truly enjoyed was watching the kids as they played sang and danced the day away. The entertainment was more a journey of cultural diversity as traditional Thingyan songs were sung from a variety of ethnic groups that attended. It was a culturally enriching celebration and all performances were great. Knowing the suffering these refugees endured before coming to America it was heart rendering to see them all smiling, laughing and enjoying the celebration, deep in the heart of Texas. Yee Haw!
As I watched the event I could not help but notice the care that was given for every detail in costume and performance by even the youngest kids who danced their tribal dances. I was entranced by the exotic movements of the performers, the precision movements of their arms, legs and hands. The grace and elegance added to the allure of their traditional dance. Then a group of Rakhine men came on stage to perform their Thingyan dance. Dressed in their traditional regalia they literally were show stoppers with their robust Rakhine songs and dance. What stamina, their sets lasted over 10 minutes a piece! These guys rocked big time and I found myself singing along with them as they mesmerized their audience with this energized performance.
Outside of the temple was joyous and full of laughter as the water festival played out in true Thingyan style. Everyone got into the act as water cannons, squirt bottles and anything that would hold water ushered in the New Year while offering good will for the future. There was a unique ride of sorts at this event I found quite entertaining and that was **‘Paul’s Gyrogym’. The Gyrogym was originally use by NASA to train astronauts and basically this device spun you every way from up and down to sideways, sort of like simulating a space capsule tumbling in space. This gyrogym was an awesome addition to the Thingyan Celebration. It would appear all these kids were made of the right stuff because they loved this futuristic relic of the Space Program and no one lost their lunch. And there was Paul with his Viking Helmet with those horns spinning the kids around. All I saw were plenty of smiles and maybe a glimpse of a future Burmese Astronaut.
After looking into this device it would appear there are some major health benefits to all this spinning around. If you never saw one it would be worth checking out for fun or health reasons. Hmm, that was some shameless promotion eh. In any event this Thingyan Celebration was a great success and a wonderful time for everyone within the Burmese community to sing and laugh together. It was a privilege to be a part of this festival and to share in the merriment and I’ll definitely come back next year. Did I mention that the food was excellent? Well it was and I do love the variety of ethnic foods this event had to offer. This event was truly a taste of Burma in more ways than one and the Venerable Silar Nanda served his community well.
*Lien Hoa Buddhist Monastery & Temple
** firstname.lastname@example.org Irving,Texas
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