Southeast Asia’s water festivals: Hopes and scenes

2023.04.14
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Firefighters spray water on the crowd during Khmer New Year – Sankranta – celebrations at Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Friday, April 14, 2023. Credit: AFP

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People spray water during Khmer New Year – Sankranta – celebrations at Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Friday, April 14, 2023. Credit: AFP

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Firefighters spray water on the crowd during Khmer New Year – Sankranta – celebrations at Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Friday, April 14, 2023. Credit: AFP

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A vendor sells flowers by the roadside Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Friday, April 14, 2023. Credit: RFA

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A woman buys bananas in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Friday, April 14, 2023. Credit: RFA

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Security personnel [right] man a street corner in Yangon, Myanmar, Thursday, April 13, 2023. Credit: RFA

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Streets were mostly quiet and empty in Yangon, Myanmar, Thursday, April 13, 2023. Credit: RFA

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People line up for a snack from a vendor in Yangon, Myanmar, Thursday, April 13, 2023. Credit: RFA

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People relax on Chaung Tha beach in western Myanmar, Thursday, April 13, 2023. Credit: RFA

As Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos celebrate their annual New Year’s water festivals, RFA asked readers what they hoped for in the year ahead. For many, the wishes are simple – peace and freedom.


Cambodia

“As a Cambodian, I wish the country and its people would get a leader who pays attention to people’s living standards so they can live in harmony, democracy (and) the rich and poor have equal rights, the same as those who live in the free world. I also wish people would have mutual unity and would restore Cambodia to the prosperity that our ancestors left us."

Sophie Lok


"I want RFA to resume its office in this peaceful country. Losing RFA is losing breaking news!"

Mala San


"I wish Hun Sen would lose the upcoming election."

Boozz Boy


"I wish this current regime wouldn’t wage war against its own people."

Rachana Konpa


"Hun Sen's regime changes to a democratic country."

Phairy Kim


Myanmar

“We miss the past. We hope for peace.”

Yangon youth


“We would like to get back the stability and development in Myanmar like under Mother Suu’s administration. We would like to see the immediate release of all those arbitrarily detained including Mother Suu and President U Win Myint, and to regain the power by the NLD government, which was elected by the people. I do not want to see people being killed unjustly.”

“I wish for the emergence of a federal state which has been desired by all ethnic minorities. I do not want to see the country's future leaders sacrifice their lives. May the Spring Revolution be successful as soon as possible!”

Mandalay woman


“As we mark Myanmar’s New Year, may Myanmar be liberated from military dictatorship and end the wars.”

Aung Naingtun


“I have a sole New Year wish. It is nothing, but down with the military council! I do not want to wish for other things. I know prayer alone is not enough, so I am doing it pragmatically. If I could travel with ‘Time travel,’ I would like to go back to January 31, 2021 and its previous days. I miss those days ruled by Mother (Suu)… I miss my home. I was forced to leave my motherland but I am eager to return to my family.”

Salmon


“My hope is that people should be involved [in the movement] and they should provide more assistance to the success of the uprising. May Myanmar people possess better lives in the New Year! May the uprising be successful as soon as possible!”

Win Ko Ko Oo


“I am from Taze township, Sagaing region. In previous years, I used to return to my village during Thingyan holidays. I am so sad that I cannot return to my home this year because I have no home there. Although festivals are held in cities, I cannot enjoy them. I am so sad because I cannot return to my native village and my parents.”

Maung Aye Min Htet from a village in Taze township, Sagaing region


Laos

"I wish I had better health, better living conditions and a higher salary. We can't go on like this in the current condition in which the cost of living is rising, while the income is staying low."

Grade school teacher in Pakkading district, Borikhamxay province


"Yesterday, I went grocery shopping and I bought three cat fish for which I paid 90,000 kip ($5.29), up more than 7% a month ago.”

A businesswoman in Vientiane wishes that Laos could get out of the economic and financial troubles sooner than later


An owner of a small factory in capital Vientiane wants the war between Ukraine and Russia to be over as soon as possible because the war is the main cause of all the economic and financial woes in the world, including Laos.

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