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Myanmar Festivals

Asia and Myanmar is full of very colorful and deep rooted festivals. Just think about all this Chinese festivals, Thai festivals, Malaysian festivals, Philippine festivals and so on, celebrations, the Indian multicultural festivals of the different ethnic groups and so on.

Festivals Myanmar Burma

Asia and Myanmar is full of very colorful and deep rooted festivals. Just think about all this Chinese festivals, Thai festivals, Malaysian festivals, Philippine festivals and so on, celebrations, the Indian multicultural festivals of the different ethnic groups and so on.

The same in Myanmar Burma, we present here only the most important festivals, there are dozens other festivals. To visit a festival around the big cities like Yangon,  Mandalay or so is no problem since the hotels, restaurants, accommodation and infrastructure is ok. The most festivals are pagoda festivals, they are on everyday somewhere in the country at all pagoda festivals one can see beautiful Buddha Statues. To visit a festival in a rather remote area make sure first to find a reasonable hotel or accommodation otherwise you will have some problems, the best is anyway to let a experienced travel agent in Yangon or Mandalay to do this job, its really necessary, the biggest festival everywhere in Myanmar is the water festival in spring.

Over the centuries Myanmar or Burma absorbed a lot of festivals from other countries, a typical example is Diwali Festival, the Indian festival of lights, Diwali Festival has a similar value like any other festival in Myanmar, its a holiday, shops are closed, everyone is out and happy.

-Other Myanmar festivals are similar to festivals in the countries around Myanmar, a typical

example is the water festival, Thingyan in Myanmar Burma, and Songkran in Thailand. Taunggyi balloon festival, thadingyut, thazaungdine , taungbyone, thingyan, water festival, Taunggyi fire balloon festival.  

Thingyan Festival or Myanmar Nwe Year Water Festival

This festival is  known  as Myanmar/'s Traditional  New Year Festival or the Water Festival. Every Myanmar citizen is happy on this day and month. There are  twelve  months  in  Myanmar calendar  too. The  first month of each year in Myanmar Burma is calculated  from  April and  the last  one is  March. According  to Myanmar  calendar, New Year Day falls on  every  second  week  of April. There?s a tradition in Myanmar-Burma to celebrate the water festival all over the country for 3 days before New Year day by throwing water on each other.

According to the proofs and  references, this sort of water festival has been celebrated in Myanmar since 500 years ago.  In Myanmar  this  festival is  called ?Thingyan? means ?moving  from  one year  to another?. It is quite puzzling why people throw water on one another during Thingyan Festival in Myanmar-Burma. More Myanmar festivals: kite festivals, music festivals, fairs festivals, food festivals, balloon festivals, Indian festivals, art festivals, folklore festivals, festival of lights, music festivalss, celebrations, diwali festival, festivals, diwali, Taunggyi balloon festival, thadingyut, thazaungdine , taungbyone, thingyan, water festival, Taunggyi fire balloon festival.

Thingyan or Myanmar Water Festival
Thingyan or Water festival at Yangon

Here are the most popular year around festivals of Myanmar-Burma

According  to  the ancient  tradition of Myanmar or maybe not only Myanmar, they have committed sins the whole year. There is also a  belief  in Myanmar-Burma that these sins could be washed away during the festival and purified both in mind and spirit by throwing one another with Thingyan Water.

Thus everyone in Myanmar-Burma is happy with a belief  that  they would be completely innocent after they are purified during the festival, physically and spiritually in the next year. As  a  meritorious deed during the water festival, some youngsters in Myanmar-Burma wash  the hair of old  people  and them too. Moreover, there?s  also  a  custom  in Myanmar-Burma to  buy  live fish  and cows  during the festival and  let  them  loose in sanctuaries  or  rivers  or lakes on the final day of Thingyan Ah-Tet Day (the final day of Thingyan).

This is a Myanmar festival custom that concerns Myanmar religion. Most  of  the  Myanmar's  believe  in  Theravada Buddhism and so killing any living creature  is  a  sinful  act, so better be nice at the festival. In Thailand the water festival or Songkran is very similar to the Myanmar water festival, also almost the same date. Myanmar's will throw water on everyone with the intention to purify their mind and spirit, its really getting wet. Tourists who visit.Myanmar during  the water festival will also get a wet experience. If you are here at this time, you?ll feel this great atmosphere. May you  be able  to visit  Myanmar then and all your sins be purified  with Thingyan Water Festival.

Myanmar and Thailand have adopted a couple of festivals from neighboring countries, like the festival of lights - diwali or divali - from India, in Thailand Loi Kratong and others.

-The Regatta Festival on Kandawgyi or Royal Lake

Regatta Festival at the Kandawgyi or Royal Lake floating the Royal CoachWhen Myanmar was a monarchy, the royal regatta festival was held in the month of Tawthalin (late September) and it remains one of the twelve monthly festivals in the Myanmar calendar. In those days the king of Myanmar-Burma and his entire court attended the regatta festivals, with the royal barge often heading the other boats as they proceeded in regal splendor down the river.

Music and song filled the air for the festival in Myanmar-on those occasions, held not only for the entertainment of the royal family, but also to evaluate the competitors, as potential recruits for the King?s Navy Races during the regatta festivals provided the opportunity for Myanmar?s kings to reward and recognize the skills of their troops and to review the strength of the naval forces.

For the spectators, royal races during the festival were an occasion to cheer and exhort their favorite teams in Myanmar-Burma.Chronicles show that royal regatta festivals were held Myanmar-Burma by eleven monarchs beginning  with King Anaukphetlun, 1605-28, and ending with King Thibaw. However, it seems quite likely that
every Myanmar King hosted regatta festivals during his respective reign.

-Thadingyut: The Festival of Lights at the end of Buddhist Lent
 

Thadingyut (October) is the end of Buddhist lent in Myanmar-Burma. For the whole last three months of the rainy season in Myanmar-Burma, Sabbaths are kept by the laity, young or old. It is the festival of lights on the full moon day. For this festival houses and streets in cities and towns in Myanmar-Burma are brilliant by illuminated. Pagodas in Myanmar-Burma are also crowded with people doing meritorious deeds during the festival. The festivals is not only a time of joy in Myanmar-Burma but also thanks giving and paying homage to teachers parents and elders and receive their blessing.

This Myanmar  festival is originated in the story of worldly beings welcoming back the Buddha with lights as He descended from ? Thvatimsa?, the highest abode of the NATS ( celestial beings) in Myanmar-Burma. He spent the three months preaching to the celestial beings headed by His mother who has died soon after giving birth to Him and reincarnated as a ?DEVA? by the name of ?Santussita?. It will be remembered that ?Gautama Buddha? after displaying unheard of miracles under the ?GANDA? mango tree, had disappeared  from that mango grove and gone to ?Tavatimsa? and spent the three months of rains-retreat. ?Tavatimsa?, the celestial abode is on the top of Mount Meru which itself is a celestial mountain with the legendary gold, sliver and ruby stairways, and colorful lanterns held in the hands held in the hands of the gods, lining up the descent of the Lord. During the festivals nights fire balloons are also seen rising up and soaring in the sky in Myanmar-Burma. 

-Tazaungdine Festival

Unsatisfied yet with the fun of the lighting festival Myanmar-Burma of Thadingyut, the people start preparing for another lighting festival called Tazaungdine or Tazaungmon.

Tazaungmon  or Tazaungdine (November)is the festivals month when  the Krattika planet (Pleiades) accompanies  the Moon in Myanmar-Burma, and  when Mahavinayaka awakes from his long slumber. It is a pre Buddhist custom in Myanmar festivals to do homage to this deity on the Full Moon night of Tazaungmon with offerings of incense, sweet-meats and lights.

This festival of Tazaungmon is an auspicious time for offering of yellow robes to the monks in Myanmar-Burma. The Buddha?s mother, reincarnated as a god in Tavatimsa, perceived from her heavenly abode that her son would  soon be discarding, the royal robes and wearing a monk?s garments. She wanted to provide the yellow robes of the monk and she had only a night?s time. But she had it woven in a  single night and offered to the Prince (Siddhartha) by a celestial messenger. In commemoration of this event weaving  competitions of  yellow robes are held all over the country.

An offering during the festival of Kathein thingan (ceremony for offering of yellow robes) to the monks is usually a big affair in large cities of Myanmar. During festivals offering ceremonies consist of a thousand and one gifts pooled by whole town's in Myanmar-Burma beside the prime gift of Yellow robes. The Kathein festivals in Myanmar-Burma account for the greatest significance in Tazaungmon.

Taunggyi Fire Balloon Festival at Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State in Myanmar, the people celebrate the Tazaungdine festival with Kahtein (offering of monk robes) as well as the releasing up fire-balloons into the sky. Balloons in the shape of elephant, ox, horse, water-buffalo, bird, pig, fish, owl and parrotare released during the Myanmar-Burma festivals.

The Taunggyi fire balloon festival is the biggest festival in Myanmar. The festival is attended not only by Taunggyi Citizens but also by people from southern Shan State and many different places of  Myanmar-Burma. Taungyi?s  Kahtein tradition festivals is amazing  and worthy of  reverence.

-Naga New Year Festival

The four main tribes and the 49 clans of Myanmar Naga have their settlements around the source of the Chindwin River until up to the Indian boarder and deep into India.

-The Festivals in a more traditional Way

The Myanmar festivals have been described as being confined to a single one, which begins in April and goes on to the following March. But that is an exaggeration. There are two regular festivals of a week or ten days each, and several others of a couple of days' duration, besides occasional festivities to celebrate the completion of zedi and temples, -and last, but not least, the cremation of the yahan. Myanmar New-Year - moon- change at Tagu - falls in April, as the sun enters the sign of Aries. The calendar has been regulated on the Brah?man model with intercalary days and months. New-Year marks the peak in the seasons ; the heat has reached its climax, to fall abruptly at the break of the south-west monsoon.

Now is the time of drought ; many of the wells are empty, and water has to be fetched from a distance. There is no greater luxury than abundance of water at this season ; water is the most seasonable offering, and great supplies are stored in the jars at the kyaungs. In a symbolic spirit, water is poured over the images of the Buddha. But the great feature of the New-Year festival is the burlesque of these libations. In the true spirit of the festival, the women douse the men, and the men douse the women, all regardless of their festal attire. The young women in particular wait in ambush for the gallants, perhaps to be caught in a second ambush by some urchin.

Thingyan Festival YangonThe liberty of water-throwing lasts for the days of akyo, akya, akydt, and atet, the stages of the journey which a thadya makes from heaven to earth to see the works of men if they be good. The legend is probably derived from the Hindu myth of the rain-god Indra, to whom water is offered at the season of his expected descent.

A religious feature of the festival is the ransom of cattle. An animal kept for slaughter by the Indian Muslim butcher is borrowed and gaily decked out, with its horns gilded.

It is led round the village or quarter of the town, followed by a festive throng, and contributions are gathered until the price of the animal is made up, when it is set free at the kyaung to be an evidence of goodwill to all things living. Festival feeling, which often runs high between the quarters of a village, with their rival kyaung,- and zed, finds an outlet at Tagu in the tug-of-war (Iun-swe). As the superstitious whistle for the wind, so do they expect to tug in the monsoon by this means, at the season when everything is panting for rain. After Tagu, the next festival season is Wazo -in June- the commencement of the Buddhist Lent. This season is signalized by the Shinlaung- festivals  

During Lent there is no regular festival. The great festival of Thadindyut celebrates the close of Lent. It falls in October, when the rains arc generally over, and is the one for which the most extensive preparations are made. Every festival is signalized by the offerings made to the yahan. But now they are literally " poured " in profusion, as the word implies (sun-/dung). Yazama - paths fenced with bamboo trellis, such as those prepared for the progress of royalty - are got ready along the chief thoroughfare. Through these on the morning of the great day the yahan defile in endless procession. As many as a thousand yahan may be invited to receive the Thadindyut offerings in a large town. The offerings are poured into the alms-bowls by the laity ; scholars are stationed at intervals to relieve the yahan of their loads of offerings.

After the yahan come pothudaw and methila. Both ends of the yazama are decorated with arches of bamboo and tinsel. About these are grouped life-size figures of mythical import ? dragons to guard the entrance, princes and princesses of the rats to take part in the honor done to the Thinga.

In the evenings fire balloons are sent off, and the rivers are illuminated with rafts carrying lamps which are set adrift. Labyrinths of bamboo are erected round the zedi, which entertain the children and especially the hill-people, who pique themselves, not without reason, on their sense of locality. These labyrinths arc called Wingaba, after the mountain maze, to which Prince

Wethandaya was banished by his father, in the zat legend who weave it, and, in order to possess its proper value, should he completed in a day and a night. This is the only approach to a vigil. The texture is loose, and broad bands of tinsel are shot through to make up the woof faster. Tawthalin is a minor festival, falling in Lent, and observed only in Pegu.

The Tawthalin offerings are distinguished by being in thousands, one thousand little cakes, one thousand plantains, and so on. The number one thousand is said to be symbolical of the thousand gata or stanzas of the Wethandaya.zat, the legend of Gautama Buddha's last incarnation but one, closely prefiguring the final incarnation.

Tazaungmon is the next Myanmar festival after Thadindyut ; it is kept in Bago, but not in Burma Proper. At this season Buddhists commemorate the miraculous journey of Gaudama Buddha to the nat countryafter the death of his mother, to impart to her the enlightenment which had come to him on earth, and by means of which he had attained peace. Spires of bamboo-work and tinsel -the tazdzingdaing - are built twenty to fifty feet high, as symbols of the stair by which Gaudama ascended. These are carried round the place with music, and are finally dedicated at the zedi.

In the interval between Tazaungmon Myanmar festivals and Thadindyut Myanmar festivals the katein- thingan are dedicated, and the mathothingan are woven. The katein-thingan is the annual supply of the primitive par?i-kaya, and is of a nominal character, owing to the profusion of offerings at other times.The mathothingan is a cloth where with to deck the images of the Buddha and the paring of the zedi. It is the offering of the women.

Myanmar festivals are more of the nature of great social holidays. Many of these are the festivals of pagodas and some are nat festivals, not all of them have any connection with Buddhism.

Thingyan at Yangon-More on The New Year Festival or Thingyan

known to Western people as the Myanmar Water Festival -similar to Songkran Festival in Thailand, is almost the only festival that is observed universally throughout Myanmar.

Thingyan takes place early in April and celebrates the annual visit of the Thagyamin or King of the Devas to inaugurate the new year. The exact day is fixed each year by the astrologers who profess to have intimate knowledge of his plans, and who also announce whether he will stay on the earth for three days or four. Early on the first day crowds repair to the monastery with pots of fresh clear water which are respectfully offered to the monks, then the images at the pagoda are ceremonially washed.

After that the festival becomes one joyous holiday and water is sprinkled or more often thrown over anybody and every?body, the idea behind it being friendliness and cleansing. In former times there was a deeper thought to the festival ?children would not fail to visit their parents and sprinkling them with a few drops of water would ask pardon for their negligence's of the past year ; a similar thought would lurk behind the offering of water to the monks ; officials and employers would receive visits from their juniors and would be sprinkled with water symbolic of blessing, good-will and respect. But in modern times the Thingyan festival tends to degenerate into a rollicking time especially for the younger folk, with buckets, hose-pipes, squirts, stirrup pumps all brought into play, with trams, trains, buses, motor-cars as the favorite targets so that on these festival days it is risky to go out unless you are prepared for repeated soakings. But among the Myanmar's themselves it is all carried on with friendliness and enjoyment, and no one minds getting soaked, for the hot weather has already arrived and there is no fear of catching cold.

-The Buddhist Lent

always comes in the Rainy Season and to help them to endure the solemn period Burmese Buddhists begin and end it with a great festival. The full moon of Wa-Zo which usually falls in early July marks the beginning of Wa or Lent and is a holiday of several days' duration, in which the Buddhist puts on his best clothes and goes to the pagoda ; usually he will spend a few minutes in prayer or meditation before an image of the Buddha ; the rest of the day will be spent in seeing the great bamboo and tinsel figures of nats or animals which have been specially built for the occasion, in visiting friends, in partaking of the lavish hospitality provided by generous people, or at night watching a performance of one of the great zats or birth-stories of the Buddha.

The end of Lent is marked by the Thadingyut festival which falls in late September or early October, and is. ushered in by a great feasting of the monks and an offering of presents. But the most striking feature of this festival is the myriads of small lanterns with which the monasteries, pagodas and houses are illuminated at night, making an inexpressibly beautiful effect. This Burmese Feast of Lights has as its religious background the commemoration of the Buddha's return from the Tawadeintha heaven when the devas lined his route and illuminated the way.

The Buddhists find another occasion for festival in the cremation of any monk of note who has died. The monk does not die as an ordinary man does ; he 'returns' to the highest heaven of devas or perhaps even to the immaterial regions of Nirvana. So his funeral is called pon-gyi-byan the return of the great glory, and is an occasion for rejoicing. The monk's body is preserved until an appropriate day has been fixed for the funeral, and in the meantime alms are collected to cover the considerable cost involved. A miniature monastery in bamboo and paper is built, in the centre of which is the funeral pyre, a lofty platform crowned by a seven-roofed spire, the whole erection tower?ing to fifty or sixty feet. The coffin is brought in pro?cession, placed on the platform, and then the pyre is lighted by rockets fired from a distance. When the whole frail erection has been burnt, the few pieces of bones that remain are collected and buried somewhere near the pagoda.

A high light in nearly all these festivals is the performance of one of the great birth-stories of the Buddha which tell the story of one of the previous existences before he attained to Buddha hood.

There are ten of these great zats or awes all of which are well known to Buddhists, and inculcate the ten great virtues to be cultivated by all who are striving to reach Nirvana.

These plays are very long and take all night to perform. They are very like the mystery plays of mediaeval times in Europe and combined a good deal of broad humor as well as religious teaching. Nowadays, however, the tendency is to substitute modern plays which have not the same religious interest as the old well-loved birth-stories

 

 
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