By Shoon Naing and Panarat Thepgumpanat
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Southeast Asian countries are cancelling or scaling back traditionally boisterous Buddhist New Year celebrations next month, citing the coronavirus pandemic as they call off water-soaked street parties and festivals.
The region usually hosts the world’s biggest water fights in mid-April in which revelers splash each other under a scorching sun. Carnivals are held across the region, with pageants and dance parties as well as religious ceremonies.
Myanmar on Friday became the first to ban all mass gatherings to mark the Thingyan holiday – the most important event in the Theravada Buddhist year – over the fast-spreading coronavirus. Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand have also taken steps but have not introduced outright bans yet.
“Since the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) is easily contracted in crowded…