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Saffron 59 Catering is New York City's premier caterer and event planner specializing in Southeast Asian cuisine. For over 11 years, Saffron 59 has successfully orchestrated memorable affairs with attention to every detail.

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Holiday: Water Festival, Biggest Water Fight of the Year!

Irene Khin Wong

Did you know that every year around April, there’s a different New Year’s celebration known as The Water Festival?  Southeast Asian countries such as Burma, Cambodia, Laos, India, Thailand as well as Yunnan, China celebrate this multi-day holiday.  In Burma, (where I’m from) the New Year’s celebration is called Thingyan; for Thailand, Songkran; for Cambodia, Chaul Chnam Thmey.  Depending on which country they’re from the festival dates vary, but they all have one thing in common-The Water Festival.


water festival with Saveur Magazine in April
  Irene Being Doused with Water in Her Home Town

Everyone take part in the festivities with traditional water-throwing activities; going to pagodas or temples for worship and blessings; and sharing communal meals. Water is a symbol of not only cleanliness but also auspiciousness.  A belief that the celebration of the
water festival will wash away evils and sins accumulated in the old one and prepare for the new one, bringing the people into a happy and peaceful new year.


Burmese Water Festival
   Water Festival - Yangon, Myanmar

No one is safe from a good drenching since this occurs during one of the hottest time of the year!  In their celebratory moods, strangers will splash or pour water at each other.  Also, during this time of the year, one of the activities will be the cooking of vast amounts of sticky rice with roasted coconut and toasted sesame over an open fire.  It is a strenuous task where the sticky rice must be soaked over night and the ingredients has to be stirred continuously.  It is a community affair; where all the people in the village will get pitch in and make offerings to monks and visitors alike.