As Myanmar is known as happy-go-lucky peoples, we are fond of festivals or ceremonies, which are usually based on the culture or religion. All of them are celebrated traditionally and each festival has its special feature. Since there are twelve months in a year, almost every month has the festival or ceremony. Most of them are worth seeing and we can observe the real ways of lives of Myanmar peoples, their culture and Customs. In order to participate those special events and occasions, we here expose the places and the reasons of
This colorful festival is traditionally celebrated by Kachin tribesmen. Literally, the sacrificial to Kachin traditional home gods concerned, feasts to everyone who joins the occasions, sipping Kaung Yay traditional intoxicating brew and the group dances in their ethnic costume on the sacrificial ground all night long. Other festival activities like food stalls, meals and entertainments can be seen at the celebration. It usually starts at the end of December to the beginning of January.
The authentic Naga hill tribes (approximately 68 different groups) wear their respective traditional costumes to participate this emotional festival. They worship to their Lords by scarifying the animals. Their unique traditional dance, martial music and cults of animism are eventually interesting. The festival usually falls on 14th and 14th of every January at Leshi in Naga Land.
This typical festival is held in Bagan, around the Ananda temple, the most crowded celebration in the most beautiful temple. Ananda pagoda festival takes place a few days before the full moon day of Pyatho, usually falls in January or early February depending on the Lunar Calendar. It is held to raise money for the upkeep of Bagan’s thousand-year-old Ananda temple. A tent city of stalls and shops surrounds the temple. Locals from near and far come to enjoy the festival.
Most of the people would be having Thanakha on their face to keep one selves cool from the heat. Thanakha is a yellowish skin paste that is unique in Myanmar. This pagoda festival is not only to worship the pagoda, Buddha, but also for shopping after the harvest time. There are different kinds of stalls and sell everything especially the products from the other regions of the country. Villagers bring their essential things and come by bullock cart and make themselves at home around the temple.
Kyaik-Khauk Pagoda Festival will be held starting day of February in Thalyin(Syriam). Most of the pagoda festival has evening entertainments such as Zats, Anyeints, some stage show and movies shown in the open air the whole night for every day. Villagers nearby come to the festival by ox-carts, which can be seen just before and on full moon day. Kyaik-Khauk Pagoda its legend dates its building far back to the time of Emperor Asorka the great king of India. Two hundred and thirty six years after the demise of the Lord Buddha, Emperor Asoka who embraced Buddhism after he heard and understood the Buddha’s Dhamma, held the Third Buddhist Council.
Full moon day Tabodwe of Nyan Yoe Plants which emit no smoke when lit, are burnt at four cardinal points on the platform of the pagoda in the early morning of 15th waning day. Worshippers than proceed to Pho U mountain top resort where Lord Buddha is said to have visited and made preordination of events. The festival usually falls on the first week of every February.
Waxing day, ceremony in which a number of monks chant Buddhist scriptures non stop. 08 the waxing day till full moon day: the real festival days with evening entertainment such as Zats (a variety of dance, song and short & long plays), Anyeints ( a performance of a few hours in which a number of “jokers” ( usually four) caricature current situations and /or persons strung together by a traditional dancer) and popular movies shown in open air.
Especially Chinlone (Cane Ball) competition is so fantastic that will give you amusement and happy.
This festival will be held in Patheingyi, Mandalay Shwe Saryan Village, 45 minutes drive from Mandalay on the way to Maymyo (near Hton Bo), You can also take a small boat on the Douhtawaddy River and visit the pagodas nearby.
Myanmar traditional toys, boxes, baskets, mats made of dried toddy palm leaves are the best selling village products in this festival.
Between Taunggyi; capital of Shan State and Hopone perform festival in Kakku in the full moon day .Alms offering is carried out by the native (Pa-O) people dressed in their traditional black out fits. There is the festival market also. Normally the festival will begin two or three days in advance for this is not just a religious festival but also a social occasion. It is the time for all to have fun, exchange news and gossips, to trade. Pa O people in all their finery come with gaily decorated trays bearing morning food offerings.
Pilgrimage and recreation go together at this seashore location. The festival usually falls at the end of February or the first or second week of March and lasts about two weeks.
The ceremony is sponsored by Kachin Buddhists. The summer, a footpath leading to the pagoda surfacesenabling pilgrims to walk to the pagoda. Usually the pagoda is surrounded by a large volume of water. The festival usually falls at the end of February or the first or second week of March and lasts about one week.
First taken to Mumbai, India, by colonialists but later regained. Famous as returnee pagoda. Robe-weaving contest, and alms-bowl offering are major highlights.
The festival usually falls at the end of February or the first or second week of March and lasts about one week.
A large volume of Shan and Bamar merchandise is traded. There are boat races on Dote-hta-wa-di river.The festival usually falls on the first or second week of every March and lasts about five days.
Ko Gyi Kyaw is a nat (spirit) who is famous as a drunkard. He is one of 37 nats, which are famous all around Myanmar. The peoples believe that by worshipping Ko Gyi Kyaw, they’ll get prosperity and will take over all the enemies and good luck will come true. During the festival, the nat is coaxed to ascend the throne, nat figures are cleansed with water and regilded, drum-thumping for the nat and cock-fighting, etc., can be seen. The festival usually falls on the first or second week of every March and lasts about six days
Typical Taung-yo pagoda festival. Different ethnic minority races can be seen. The festival usually falls on the first or second week of every March and lasts about one week.
Being a happy-go-lucky people, Myanmars hold several festivals in a year. In the days of Myanmar Kings, there was a major festival in every month of year even though some of them have ceased to be celebrated, there must be dozens of them left, various pagoda festivals and other regional ones which are held all over the country. Thus, our country is a veritable land of festivals being the land of Pagodas. The merriest among them is Thingyan, the Water Festival. The Thingyan Festival marks the changing of the old year to the new. In other words, Thingyan is the Myanmar New Year Festival. It is usually falls on 13th April and last for three or four days. Customarily, children usher it in a day advance. The main feature of the festival is water-throwing or pouring water. Anyone can throw water at or pour water on anyone else with impunity during the festival.
wever, throwing water at elderly people, pregnant women and Sabbath-keepers is taboo in rural areas. Public servants on duty such as policeman and postmen are also exempted from being doused. As a rule, people take no offense when they re doused because water throwing is a deep-rooted custom. The only thing is water throwers are expected to use clean pure water. There are three reasons for pouring or throwing water during Thingyan.
Firstly, it is done as a symbol of washing away the impurities or sins of the old year; the second reason is that; water throwing relieves the intense heat of April which is the hottest month of the year. No wonder most people welcome it on one seems to mind it. The third reason is simply to have fun. In the village, children throw water squirts made of bamboo, tin or plastic. Some people even use buckets for a hearty dousing. In towns, water-throwing hoses are used. The use of the fire-hoses and water balls made of plastic are banned as being dangerous. During Thingyan Festival water-throwers use to make fun by teasing one another to their hearts content. But no one seems to mind and peace and friendliness prevail through out the festival. Some people erect water-throwing pandals at the road-side and throwing water at the passing cars and passerby. Some go round the town in cars receive water-throwing. Special interest of Thingyan is beautiful decorated cars featuring big boats go round the city entertaining the people, singing dancing and Thangy chanting. Thingyan is not only a time of fun but also a reason of good will and good deeds. Elderly people spend the days observing Sabbath, listening to sermons at monasteries; and it is the time for washing the Buddha’s image in the family shrine room with scented water.
Some young men are receiving into the holy older of the yellow Robe to become temporary monks around the time of the festival. Some young women earn merit by attending to the needs of the elder ones, such as feeding, washing the hair and nail clipping. Thingyan is also a time for communal feeding, the most popular seasonal food being jaggery-center-dough-ball that floats on water (Mon-Lon-Ye-Paw in Myanmar term). As a rule, it is communally made and distributed in the neighborhood and fed to all passersby. Thingyan is also a time for novice ceremonies. Many young people are busy with their songs, music, dancing and thangyat for the festival when nearing the time of Thingyan, there is the flowering at the gum-kino-trees (Padaut trees) that occurs only three times in a year, lasting for only one day each time. Water-throwing and prize-giving pandals mushrooming overnight everywhere just before the festival begins. In Yangon, Thingyan Festival is held by erecting a big pandal just in front of the Town Hall sponsored by Yangon YCDC (Yangon City Development Committee) and there are also traditional dancer and music playing merrily on the stage every year. It is also one of the highlights in Yangon during Thingyan Period. The festival falls on 13th to 16th April annually.
In the late evening on the eve of the Water Festival, young women grind thanakha bark to a fine cream using water on rounded stone slabs, They are accompanied by music played by young men. The festival falls on 13th April annually.
Buddhists, young and old alike, spend the day performing meritorious deeds like releasing live animals, offering food to monks, paying homage to elders etc. The festival falls on 17th of April annually.
Stupa of sand built on the compound of Shwesandaw on the receding day of Thingyan. Sponsored by descendants of Shans, who migrated over a century ago. Buffalo dance included. The festival falls on 17th of April annually.
Large number of pilgrims pay respect to Nat shrines on top of Mt. Popa. We can observe the cults of spiritualism. The festival falls on 17th of April annually.
Full-dress, large-scale procession followed by water-pouring on the sacred Bo-tree, significantly, on the waxing day of Kason, a day before normal watering day. The festival falls in the first week of May and takes place one day only.
Dummy boat races on land, real boat contests and water splashing in Mrauk Oo canal on full-moon day. Traditional wrestling at the foot of the pagoda; finals held on full-moon day. The festival usually falls in the first or second week of May.
Buddha’s birthday is commemorated by pouring water onto the sacred Bo tree. The festival usually falls on the full moon day of May.
Torchlight procession by Taung Yo tribe in the early part of the night to pay homage to the numerous statues in the cave. The festival usually falls in the first or second week of May.
Locally made rockets stuffed with powerful gunpowder are ceremoniously carried and launched in competition. Observed mostly by ethnic Pa-Oh people to predict the weather and crop. Young men and women use small mirrors to tease one another. The festival usually takes place one month.
Recitation of five parts of Nikaya held at Kaya Aye Hillock. Similar recitations are also held township wise throughout the country by both monks and nuns. The festival usually falls on first or second week of June.
Special occasions and recitations are held in all pagodas elsewhere. The festival usually takes place in the first or second week of July.
Women of Sittwe annually gather at the cliff where they believe the Guardian Spirit dwells. They stick yellow papers onto the boulder with banana paste. The festival usually takes place in the first or second week of July.
Native marine vessels, big and small, gather to pay homage to the Nats whilst plying around on the Ayeyarwady River. Spirit dances included. The festival usually takes place at the end of July or beginning of August annually.
For eight days before the last full-moon every August, the village of Taungbyon, 20 Kilometers (13 miles) north of Mandalay, becomes the focus of the Taungbyon Spirit Festival. Tens of thousands of Myanmar people attend this annual celebration, held in honor of the Taungbyon Brother Lords.
The rites for these two brothers, honored as “Nats”,originated during King Anawrahta’s 11th Century reign. Wooden figures, representing the brothers are ceremonially washed and paraded through the crowds as everyone present strains to touch each of the figures at least once. The brothers are in fact historical figures. Perhaps nowhere else is there such an open display of Myanmar Buddhism’s animistic essences as at the brother’s festival in this small village. There are ritual offerings, ceremonial dances, dozens of pwes, consultations with shamans, an enormous bazaar and lots of eating, gambling and general carousing. In words of anthropologist “Melford Spiro”, it is “a combination Burmese style, and an American state fair and medieval miracle play”. Washing ceremony of the Two Brothers is the most crowded and busiest day of the festival. On that very day, the two Lords, after putting them on the palanquin, surrounded by four Queens including the Royal King’s attendants and a great number of people, carried two figures of Lords to the spirit-tree near the Ayeyarwaddy river beach where washing ceremony is taken place. The tree spirit of washing the figures is to have nice clean with dear friends and some people wash with Shampoo water and spray wilk scented water on two Lords playing Myanmar orchestra and long drum and so forth. Regarding Taungbyon spirit festival, people who believe in spiritual being (Nats) participate in great number at washing ceremony of Taungbyon Brothers Lords every year at Taungbyon village. It is also our traditional Burmese way of life to wash and clean the figure of Nats and images of gods as meritorious deeds. Moreover it is believed that, one who cleans the figure of Mingyi & Minlay may have purification of one’s mind and also be prosperous throughout his life by getting the blessing of two Lords. The advantages of Taungbyon Spirit Festival, one might know about Nats and in the Buddhist way of thinking, they are indeed the spirit of all levels and how they are taking parts Myanmar ways of life. Furthermore, everybody who happens to attend to the spirit festival may see all the teasing, playing & joking go with the spirit of Taungbyon Festival with sure be rejoiced to everyone.The festival usually takes place within first or second week of August and lasts for one week.
It is of much glories and distinguished spirit festival occurs annually on August, just one week after the end of Taungbyon spirit festival. It takes 8 days to complete the occasion of the Yadanagu Spirit festival. The festival is held annually in honor of Popa. Médaw, Méwanna (mother of the two Lords) who came back from Taunbyon Festival, on her way back to Mt. Popa, she halted at the Yadanagu as her Transit-Camp. It is also believed that the festival is held in the commemoration of Popa Médaw who has been sent to Mt. Popa by her Sons, Mingyi and Minlay. There are two pantheons or Spirit Shrines at Yadanagu, the people held the festivals annually at two places at the same time in comparatively. When visiting Yadanagu Pagoda Spirit Festival one might see the Kinship between Nats and humans. Some group of people could be seen holding a ceremony to propitiate Nats everywhere around Yadanagu area. Some are dancing as if he is possessed by a Nat. But you could see some people though he is not possessed by Nats would be dancing like anything. The music playing in this ceremony could stimulate the people more than any other type of music and hence everybody wants to get into the ceremony. Advantages of visiting the Yadanagu Spirit festival as locker he may know about Nats. They are celestials or Devas of different levels and how they are involved in Myanmar way of life. Moreover, Pagodas play a memorable part in the life of a Myanmar Buddhist. The festival usually starts on the first or second week of September.
Sacks of white rice donated from around the country are given away in large volume to residing monks and nuns of Mandalay and Sagaing Hill. Nuns are presented on the 14th waxing day and monks on full-moon day. Children’s play of wood apples, 3 days before the ceremony, is also growing interest. The festival usually takes place between second and third week of September.
Thadingyut, the seventh month of the Myanmar calendars marks the end of lent, monsoon is on the way out and the skies becoming clear. There is a great festival of Thadingyut, celebrated on a full moon day and marked by illuminations, the three day lights festival, namely the day before the full moon, the full moon day and the day and the day after will be those of music, dances and fun. Illuminations are there to celebrate the anniversary of the Buddha’s return from the celestial abode where had spent the lent teaching the gods his law. It was on the full moon day the Thadingyut month that the Buddha descended to the abode of human. Human on earth illuminated the homes, streets and buildings with colored electric bulbs to welcome the Buddha and his disciples. The Thadingyut is not only a season of festival and rejoicing, but also a time for remembering those to whom we owe respect and gratitude. According to the Buddhist teaching, there are five Revered ones, namely the Buddha, his law, his order of Monks, Parents and Teacher. During the Thadingyut season Burmese Buddhists go round paying respects to Parents, teachers, elderly relatives and friends. It is one of the Myanmar traditions for the senior or elderly persons in the streets or residential quarter to receive gifts and respects from the younger people of the community. In this way it is more intimate and pleasant and so this is the spirit of Thadingyut season. The festival usually falls in the second or third week of October and lasts for three days.
From 14th waxing day until the full-moon day, numerous life-size dummy elephants sing and dance to the accompaniment of music. The dances are very cheerful and you will discover Myanmar people can preserve their traditions hand by hand from many hundred of years. The festival usually takes place between second and third week of October.
The festival of Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda in Inle Lake in Shan State held in October is the biggest occasion of the Lake. The festival is held with great magnificence and pageantry fun fairs and dances are also held. The holy images of the Buddha from Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda are placed on a decorated royal barge called Karaweik (Mythical Bird) and towed by leg-rowers around the Lake, stopping at each village to let people pay homage. The pagoda festivals are held for each pagoda and there festivals could be viewed as the Myanmar equivalent of western fun fairs. In a pagoda festival, one can find food stalls, toy shops selling sundry consumer goods, magic show, puppet shows and dramas. People young and old simply love to have a stroll around the place where there is pagoda festival. Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda festival begins on 1st Waning of Thadingyut every year in Myanmar month but closing day may be different according to the decision of the members of the Pagoda Associations. The unique and most interesting event of the festival is, of course, the Shan traditional boat races participated by leg-rowers of both men and women dressed in their national costumes. By visiting Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda festival one has chance of seeing the different races of Myanmar Nationalities, such as, Danu, Inntha, Pa-O, Shan, Palaung, Kachin, Taung Yoe and son on. Among them especially Shan people are very generous and so pious in Buddhism. They are so keen to religious that their names are quite similar to that of novice or a Buddhist monk. Secondly, one may have chance of viewing the very scenic beauty of Inle Lake and its environments and their traditions and customs which on can hardly be found anywhere else. Moreover one could have chance to see the Shan people traditional dances and their peculiar type of music drums, flutes, bras and bronze and such is their physical grace and personal charm. As for a stranger in a strange land, this glimpse of significant loveliness and this excitement of a people’s native culture will always remain in the heart forever. The festival usually takes place between the first and second week of October and lasts 18 days to complete.
Candle lights and fireworks are carried in procession before offering to the pagoda. The festival usually starts in the first or second week of October and takes 15 days to complete.
The boulder, standing on the edge of a peak in the highest mountain range, is said to be freely hanging over the cliff. Famous as pilgrimage and holiday outing spot. The festival takes place on the full moon day of Thadingyut, usually falls on the second or third week of October.
The image was cast out of a single piece of alabaster in 1854 under the guidance of King Mindon. The festival usually takes place in the first or second week of October and lasts about five days.
In the month of Tazaungmon, we have lighting festival which is known as Tazaungdaing festival. This festival is not only lighting festival but also celebrates religious activities. During this festival Myanmar Buddhist people celebrates offering ceremony of robes to the monks and paying a greater attention to the needs of the monks. At night, there are variety pattern of lights on houses and pagoda platforms. In every parts of the country, youths set off flying Lanterns (Balloons protecting a light against wind). In Myanmar, it is called “Mee-Bone-Byan”. It is a huge balloon made of way paper, Marajin Cloths and plastic sheets. In olden days Waso paper are widely used while in modern days plastic sheets are used. We filled the balloons with smoke from grease-soaked rag let at an opening the bottom. After getting enough smoke, the balloon slowly rises as everyone cheers, then floats upwards until only a flowing round flub of light is seen. More creative villager make balloons in the form of tigers, elephants and birds. The people make the balloons and set them off flying for offering the light to the Sulamani Pagoda in Tawadaintha Heaven, built by the King of Celestials Beings, and enshrined relic of the Buddha’s hair. Since the olden days; and people usually make different size of balloons with decorated patterns, in the form of birds, tigers and other desired forms.When we make the Balloons, first of all, take iron rim which 5.56 mm in thickness and 1½ feet in diameter for the upper part of the Balloon and the two rod of irons interest on the rim. At the centre of intersection on rod of iron is erected, so as to use as a balloon-hanger with strong rope. Later, put though the wooden pole or iron pole into the ring of strong rope which fix at centre of rim of upper part. Make again the same design of circular rim but smaller in size 12 mm thick to fix for the lower part of the balloon. At the centre of intersection an iron rod about 1½ feet is erected vertically. The rim must be small and stronger. This iron rod is covered with a grease-soaked rope to get the fire burning. After having arranged the upper rim and lower rim, take the wax paper is stick it to the iron of upper top, after making sure that it must be airtight. Similarly, the wax paper is struck tightly to the lower iron rim, leaving an opening at the bottom to let the smoke in. Take a good care to let the rod of iron with grease-soaked rap make the smoke inside the balloons. Then come filling with the smoke from a grease-soaked rag using fix or eight rod with the grease-soaked rag, let at an opening in the bottom. After getting a sufficient amount of smoke, the balloon started the floats and shake. Then only, it is time to filling smoke and set fir to rod of iron which is covered with grease-soaked rag. At that time, we have to pay a greater care to the balloon from damaging b the heat of the fire. After that take off the wooden pole from the ring of the upper part of the rim. At that moment, lower part of the rim is held firmly by the 6 or 7 men and check the flame. After making sure that the stable condition of the flame is safe, people set off the Balloon-slowly. Finally, the balloon is found fill with clouds of smoke and floats upwards so high and drifted in the blue sky. The festival falls between first to third week of November and lasts for five days.
On the 14th Waxing day of Tazaungmon, groups of young women take part in competitions held on the platforms of the pagodas. The robe is to be finished flawlessly overnight and offered at dawn to the images of Lord Buddha around the Pagoda. The festival usually takes place between second and third week of November.
On Full moon day, 9999 candles are ceremoniously lit. At midnight, visitors are served with mixed salad with maezali buds, believed to possess powerful magical and medicinal properties if eaten at this time. The festival usually takes place between second and third week of November.
Pilgrimage and holiday outings on country oxcarts can be seen. The festival usually takes place between second and third week of November.
The 6 days ceremony of festival is held at the pagoda of Po Win Taung Cave in Monywa. Most of the devotees and revelers of Myanmar are coming with more than 500 bullock carts carrying clay pot in each cart to this festival. On the ceremony day, they drop this clay pot from the front part of bullock’s cart, it’s called Hlae Oo Cha [it means paying homage to the sprits of the cave with their bullock carts]. Normally there’re a lot of monkeys along the way to the cave, how wondering is no monkeys during the festival and all the natives believed that the guardian spirits keep them from harm of people who’ll intend to kill them and not to disturb the devotees and any others who come to participate this event. The festival usually takes place in the first or second week of December.