Kapampangan Water Festival
SANGWANAN / SANJUÁNAN / SAN JUAN BASÂ
San Juan Bautista, Betis, Guagua, Pampanga
During the ritual, dripping-wet Betis folk take turns hoisting up an ancient bronze Holy Cross while dancing a kuraldal, a Kapampángan dance for saints. It is widely believed that the bronze cross brings blessings to anyone who touches it.
This is one of many water festivals during the season of Báyung Danum (New Water), the ancient Kapampángan New Year welcoming the rainy season in June, along with the líbad (river procession) and Fiestang Danum. These are said to have originated from precolonial water festivals at the start of the rainy season which were Christianized by coinciding with the feast days of St. John the Baptist and St. Peter every June.
Sangwánan vs. other San Juan / Saint John’s Day / June Solstice Celebrations
SPAIN: Bonfires of Saint John
Traditional midsummer celebration on the evening of June 23 when bonfires and fireworks are lit. This stems from ancient pagan summer solstice traditions when bonfires are lit to protect against evil spirits when the sun turns southward or “weaker” again.
PUERTO RICO: La Noche de San Juan
Puerto Rico was formerly named San Juan Bautista, and every St. John’s Eve on June 23, people travel to the beach and fall backward into the water for three, seven, or twelve times on midnight to cleanse the body of bad luck.
CHILE: Aymara & Mapuche New Years
The Noche de San Juan coincides with the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, and in Chile, this marks the New Year of the Aymara people (Willka Kuti or Machaq Mara) and of the Mapuche-Huilliche peoples (We Tripantu). In contrast to the happy celebration of the coming summer in the Northern Hemisphere, this is seen in the Southern Hemisphere as the longest night to beware of the demonic presence most evident on this day than any other day of the year.
Sangwánan vs. Some Similar Water Festivals across Asia:
Thai New Year holiday is famous for its water festival and public water fights
JAPAN: Fukagawa Hachiman Festival
Water splashing festival where over 120 mikoshis (small, kami[Shinto spirit]-toting palanquins) are marched through the streets by devoted shrine-goers
INDIA: Ganesh Chaturthi
Hindu festival commemorating Hindu god Ganesha’s birth that ends with Ganesha’s idol carried in a public procession and immersed in a river or the sea
INDONESIA: Suwat Water Festival
Long-standing Balinese water-splashing festival every New Year promoting the sanctity of water in the village of Suwat
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