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Festivals

Festival Calendar

January (Nadaw/Pyartho)

 Kachin Manao Festival (Kachin) / 10th January

 Ananda Pagoda Festival (Bagan) / 27 December to  02nd January

 Naga New Year (Sagaing) / 14th - 15th January

Kachin Manaw Festival

The Kachin or Jingphaw as they are known in their own languages is one of the largest ethnic races of Myanmar living in the northern most region of the country; belong to Tibeto-Burman tribe. There are different Kachin tribes like Kharku, Thaisan, Lacheik, Rawang, Thaikhamt and Lisu. Frankness, friendliness, hospitality and generosity are some of the lovely characteristics of the Jingphaw.

Manaw is the most remarkable event as well as unique holy tradition in Kachin State. The Jingphaw are now either Buddhist or Christian and the animist ceremonies of their ancestors are now celebrated as part o upholding their cultural heritage. They are a people proud of their traditions, with a richness of culture that befits the grandest celebrations. Manaw festival to celebrate the New Year is held in Myitkyina on or around 10thJanuary every year and it is not only a New Year ceremony but also a reunion celebration and also a festival to celebrate a victory or achievement. Moreover, it is a show of gratitude to ancestral spirits. On this occasion, all participants pray for a bright future.

At one festival, tens of thousands of people from all villages in the region will be present in all their tribal finery. Dancing with the rhythmic beat of the ceremonial gong, moving anti-clockwise in a big circle to the beat of the gong where everybody can join behind them, waving ceremonial swords by men and handkerchief by women, your transient experience with Manaw will surely remain with you forever.

Ananda Pagoda Festival

Ananda Pagoda festival in Bagan takes place a few days before the full moon day of Pyatho, which falls on December/January. Pagoda festivals give farmers the chance not only to worship at a famous pagoda but also make a little extra cash selling handicrafts.

Entire villages near and far arrive in caravans of bullock carts and camp around the temple. People bring bedding, cooking pots, dry rations and even their faces. Pottery rafts come down stream from the famous pottery town of Kyaukmyaung, some kilometers upriver from Mandalay during the Ananda Festival. The riverside at is lined with rafts and boats bringing these jars and smaller unglazed pottery. They are piled high on the sandy banks, while near the temple they squat in row upon glistening row, like fat beetles in the sun..

At dawn on the day of the full moon, alms bowls filled with rice are offered to monks who all wait in a long line and special offerings at the Buddha with rice, fruit, cakes, flower, candles and scent sticks.

At all Pagoda festivals in Myanmar, local people have a great chance to watch the performing arts of Zat Pwe (traditional dance and drama) and movies in open theatre for dusk to dawn every night throughout the festival days.

Naga New Year Festival

The Naga are a tribe living in the mountains, valleys and plains of one of the most remote places on earth. Naga hill lies in the northwest corner of Myanmar, close to the Indian border. The snow-capped Mt.Saramati on Naga hill is 3828m high. Khamti is the most famous town of Naga land. The traditional customs and religious beliefs of the Naga tribes have not died out till today.

The main Naga tribes have different costumes with fantastic headdresses of colorful plumes, beads, bone, horn and tusks as priceless items, which they treasure above gold. Their robes are closely woven from thick cotton or wool, dyed in bright colors and embroidered with cowry shells. Each pattern has a story that the weaver wanted to record. They wear everything in every color. The females wear tattoos on their foreheads and chins. In addition, there are some small differences in customs, but they are still of one main race. There are 49 sub-tribes differentiated by their spoken languages. They are a proud people living in an isolated land, preferring to be left alone in their own region. They live as strictly according to old customs as their ancestors did.

Insignias of leaders are apparent: bands of woven armlets made of cane or special spear and extra necklaces. Their finery is not merely for decorative purposes as each piece has its own meaning, each piece marks an event or status of their people.

Rice wine is always ready in pots at homes. Shared with others, it is a drink of friendship, of sealing goodwill between friends and strangers. Naga's biggest festival is New Year festival, which annually celebrated on 14~15 January, called Kaing Bi. There is a great feasting and joy and tribes gather to join the revelries. On this occasion, endless cups of rice wine are drunk, bison and wild boar meat roasted and eaten, tribal dances performed with loud beating of drums. Visitors are welcomed, for they are curious about strangers although they prefer to stay home. The visitors on their part have a chance to see events and people living in old ways. If strangers join in their celebrations, they are welcomed; it is good to share the happiness.

If your travel date falls on January and looking for something different, please contact to our office to adjust the date and to be integrated into your tour program.

 

February (Pyartho/Dabodwei)

 Full Moon Day of Dabodwei (Countrywide)

 Mahamuni Pagoda Festival (Mandalay) / 13th - 27th February

 Shwe Dagon Pagoda (Yangon) / 17th February - 27 Feb

 Full Moon Day of Tabaung (Countrywide) / 26th - 27th February

Mahamuni Pagoda Festival (Mandalay)

Falls on the full moon day of Thabodwe. This festival usually lasts for 2 days. Glutinous rice (which is a delicacy) contests are also held on the pagoda's platform. A variety of incense sticks are burnt for the Myanmar Buddha image on the full moon day. During this festival thousands of people from all over the country make the pilgrimage to the Mahamuni Pagoda. The temple is always the center of activities and during this festival it explodes with energy.

 

 

 

 Shwe Dagon Pagoda (Yangon)

The festival of the Shwedagon Pagoda is celebrated on the fullmoon day of Tabaung (March) every year. This is the eand mark of Myanmar, vistible from all directions. It situates on the hill of seinguttra and therefore it lore the original name of Seinguttra Ceti.
It was built by King Utkalapa enshrinijg the sacred hair relies of the sord Buddha in this life time, brought by the two young trader brothers Tapuss a and Balirea who went to Buddha gaya to trade and came to see the sord Buddha in his early days of Enlightenment.
The original stupa was only 66 feet, and now becomes 326 feet after many renovations by successive ruears of Myanmar. The Shwedagon is now the second tallest religious structure in the country whereas the first tallest one in the Shwemawdaw pagoda in Bago having the height of 373 feet. It is the most beautiful and magnificent structure in the world. It is a touring spire of Shimmering gold.
It is the world's richest pagoda, with its geittering crown embeded with inestimable treasure of precious gems and weight of gold beyond enumeration. The whole stupa is not gieted but covered with gold peatesall over. It is one of the madern wonders of the world.
Many people in the country contributes funds for tue reparing wover and a great number of people pay homage every day. There are many festivals throughout the year. The pouring water to the sacred Bo-tree, the overnight weaving contest for the yellow robes, the donation of goldleaves in a buck and many others are unnoticed festivals in each occasion.
The greatest festival is that of Tabung festival. The renovation works were greatly done and the escalator on the western stairway and the elevators in all others are beautifully firced and the elevators in all others are beautifully firced and the spires are rebuilt. Even the camopy is removated with modern techniques.

March (Dabodwei/Tabaung)

 Kakku Pagoda Festival (Inle) / 22nd February - 01st March

 Shwe Umin Pagoda Festival (Shan State)

 Full Moon Day of Tagu (Countrywide) / 28th - 29th March

 Shwe Maw Daw Pagoda Festival (Bago) / 22nd - 29th March

 Popa Nat Festival (Mt.Popa) / 26th - 27th May

Kakku Pagoda Festival (Inle)

Annually in March, on the full moon day of Tabaung (March) which is the last month of the Myanmar lunar calendar, Kakku Pagoda festival takes place. 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. For the younger set it is the time to meet their friends from other villages or the boys to fall in love with the girls.
As it is, all the people of the region arrive by the thousands, dressed in their traditional costumes. Some come in bullock carts while others arrive by more modern conveyances, on the village tractor. But the most interesting time to visit this place is to get there before dawn of the full moon day of Tabaung where the Pa O people in all their finery come with gaily decorated trays bearing morning food offerings.

Shwe Umin Pagoda Festival (Shan State)

Pindaya Shwe Oo Min cave Pagoda festival is held on and around Full moon day of Tabaung as well. It starts seven days before the full moon day. During the festival time, thousands of devotees come from villages around the area to the cave. A kind of pagoda mall is set up at the foot of the hill under big shady Banyan trees to sell local products.

 

 

 

 

Popa Nat Festival (Mt.Popa)

Popa Nat (Spirit) festival is held on full moon day of Tagu, the first month in Myanmar calendar during summer (April). Large numbers of worshippers, who believe in spirits pay respect to the Nats at their shrines on the top of Mt.Popa. Visitors will have a chance to witness the Nat (Spirit) dances, which are very crowded with the audience. In addition to this main festival, there are also festivals held on full moon day of Warkhaung, the fifth month of Myanmar calendar (July-August) and full moon day of Nadaw, the ninth month in Myanmar calendar (November~December).

 

 

 

April (Tabaung/Tagu)

 Thingyan Water Festival (Countrywide) / 13th - 16th April

 Full Moon Day of Kason (or) Bo Tree Watering Festival (Countrywide) / 26th - 27th April

Thingyan, the Water Festival

Thingyan, the water festival is the unique and colorful with the merriest occasion in Myanmar. During Thingyan days, the people throw water each other since the Myanmar people believe that Thingyan water has the power to cleanse the evil and sins of the old year. Thingyan falls on the last four days before Myanmar New Year day, which is in the second week of April roughly on the twelfth or thirteenth, according to the Gregorian calendar.

Almost the whole population is in the most joyous mood; roam around the city in cars or on foot to throwing and splashing water each other. Elaborately decorated pavilions and pandals called Mandats are built beside of almost every street in front of government offices and private business establishments. The young women gather dressed in their best. It is the time when Thingyan sprit is in the air and Thingyan fever grips the heart. To every people, no matter what religious belief, Thingyan brings joy, happiness, relief and hope. For the young and the young-at-heart, it is the merriest time of the year when they literally let themselves go splashing and pouring water on friends and strangers, wait to throw water with water pipes. Special Thingyan songs play all the time. Some pavilions have raised platform for traditional dance performance..

While Thingyan is a time for fun, it is also a time for religious reflection. People go to Pagodas and Monasteries to do merit and offer food to monks, pay homage to elders and bathe Buddha images. Snacks and refreshments are prepared and served to everyone.

Full Moon Day of Kason (or) Bo Tree Watering Festival (Countrywide)

The month Kason usually falls on May of the English calendar. The month of excessive great. It is the season water in all ponds, lakes and creeks reduces to its lowest level. During the month of Kason the length of the day is longer and the night is shorter. People of Myanmar regard the month of Kason as Taurus) season and the sign of the podiac is a ball. The seasonal flower is Sagar and this festival is water pouring ceremony at the maha-Bodhi tree, the holy Banyan tree at the foot of which the Buddha attained Buddhahood or enlightenment. As the month of kason is at the middle of the hot reason, the earth is dry and people pour water at the Maha-Bodhi tree to make sure it does not die of drought during the hot summer. This has become an integral part of Myanmar culture and on every full-moon day of kason, the Buddhist people would march in a grand procession to the Bodhi tree or to the pagodas to pour scented water.
The full-moon day of kason is significant for other seasons too. It is the day on which Gotama Buddha was born, attained enlightenment, passed away, and as a recluse in is this previous existence, blessed by the prophecy of Depankara Buddha that he (sumedha) would also become a Buddha one day in the very remote future. It also is the day on which the original Bodhi tree arose from out of the earth as an assurance of the coming of the Gotoma Buddha.

 

July (Nayon/Waso)

 Full Moon Day of Waso / 25th - 26th July

August (Waso / Wakhaung)

 Taungpyone Festival / 19th - 25th August

Taung Pyone Nat Festival (near Mandalay)

Majority of Myanmar people are Buddhists. However, some of them have any other traits of believe such as worshipping some deities for devotion or for consolation. Most of the people generally consider that is not a peculiar thing to revere a Nat (Spirit).

About 20km north of Mandalay lays a small village called Taung Pyone, resting quietly among the green fields. This place becomes the focus of the Taung Pyone Spirit Festival held every year in the Myanmar month of Wagaung (August) to honor the Nats at that place. This area had been awarded to the Nats as a special province of their own by Myanmar Kings since Bagan dynasty in 11 century. According to tradition, Nats are spirits that must be appeased or they will wreak havoc in peoples' lives. The homage-paying festival is now held annually to appease the spirits as it is believed that the Nat Brothers can fulfill one's wishes, protect one from ill fate and danger, and bring good luck, prosperity and progress. It is one of much glories and distinguish spirit festival occurs annually on August.

Nowadays, Taung Pyone is the most famous one among the Nat festivals countryside. All the Nat medians and those who believe and worship Nat gather at that village. Thousands of people are attending at the hundreds of Nat Pavilions to discuss the median for their future plans and prosperities. Series of 37 Nat statutes on the stands are offered food and flowers, cash, alcohol and the medians amuse Nat with dance and the traditional Nat music day and night. As Nat song and music is very fantastic, whoever heard this song want to participate in their dance. Thousands of people are coming in and out every-day until the end of the festival.

The Taung Pyone Nat Festival is a place of must for those who want to observe the spirit-worship in Myanmar and it is a sort of merry making trip.

September (Wakhaung/Tawthalin)

 Manuha Pagoda Festival (Mandalay Division) / 23rd September

 Manuha Pagoda Festival (Mandalay Division)

Manuha Pagoda Festival is held annually one day before the Full Moon Day of Tawtalin. Depending on the Lunar Calendar, the festival is held in end of September or start of October. Manuha Pagoda Festival is celebrated for three consecutive days.
During the festival, rice cakes and pickled winter melon are served to all comers from near and far. The Myinkaba region dwellers donate these to all visitors. This is apart of the traditional practice of this festival. This tradition is also believed to have been descended from the time of the King Manuha. Monks from many monasteries around the region are invited to the Manuha Pagoda and are offered rice on the morning of the Full Moon Day of Tawtalin.

 

 

October (Tawthalin/Tadingyut)

 Full Moon Day of Thadingyut (Countrywide) / 22nd - 23rd October

 Dancing Elephant Festival (Kyaukse) / 22nd - 23rd October

 Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda Festival (Mon State)

 Phaungdawoo Pagoda Festival (Shan State) / 09th - 26th October

Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival

The greatest event of the Phaung Daw Oo Buddha images is held on a grand scale in the month of October (sometimes in September). It is the time of transition from the rainy to the cold season. The monsoon is gone and the whole country everywhere looks pleasant. It can be regarded as pagoda festival season as famous pagoda festivals are held and Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda festival is the most colorful and spectacular festival in Myanmar. It is the biggest occasion at the Inle Lake because it is not only held at the place where the pagoda is situated.

Four Buddha images out of five from Phaung Daw Oo pagoda are taken on a gilded Karaweik royal barge and conveyed around 14 villages on the lake during 18 festival days. The barge is towed by decorated canoes paddled by leg- rowers an d hundreds of boats follow the occasion. The pagoda festival is held in every village, where the barge makes stopover. People pay homage and offer flowers, alms, water and a variety of fruits to the Buddha images. The most interesting event of the festival, especially for foreigners is their boat race due to their unique leg rowing. Boat races are held during the festival and on the last day. Usually a race is taken place with three long boats, containing one hundred people each, standing upright and rowing with their legs in the traditional Inle style. It is the one and only place in the world where one can see such marvelous act.

Even when it is not festival time, it is very interesting to observe the Intha's lifestyle on the lake, floating farms and the most famous floating market which being held at Ywama village every five days.

Kyaukse Elephant Dance Festival

This festival is celebrated on the full moon day of Thadingyut (October) and a yearly cultural highlight of Kyaukse, 26 miles south of Mandalay. The life-size elephants are made of bamboo frames and paper. Two men get inside of the hollow elephant and dance like lively elephants, followed by some traditional musical troupes is very exiting and amusing. The whole inhabitants compete, not only for the best elephant dance performance, but also for the most beautifully decorated elephant. The festival is crowded with people from surrounding villages of Kyaukse and also from Mandalay. Visitors will have an opportunity to witness the Myanmar Art of Paper Mache Toy.

 

Full Moon Day of Thadingyut (Countrywide)

Thadingyut is a seven-month of Burmese calendar and the end of lent. Three days of lights festival, namely the day before full moon, the full moon day and the days after. Illuminations are there to celebrate the anniversary of Buddha's return from the celestial abode where He had spent the lent teaching the celestials about His Law. Among the gods was the one who was the mother of Buddha, reborn there. It was on the full moon day of Thadingyut month that Buddha descended to the abode of humans. He and His disciples were attended by a heavenly host of celestials who created a pathway of star ladder. Buddhist on earth illuminated the homes and streets to welcome Buddha and His disciples.

 

Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda Festival (Mon State)

The famous legendary Pagoda on the Golden Rock about 160 Km from Yangon and 11 km of hiking from the base camp at Kyaikhto. Visitors can also go by car up to a point about a mile away from the Pagoda. This pagoda is situated on a rocky mountain 3615 ft above sea level. The Kyaikhtiyo pagoda is one of the most ancient and celebrated of all pagodas in Myanmar. It is situated in the vicinity of Kyaikhto township, Thaton district. The pagoda is said to have been built during the life-time of the Buddha over 2400 years ago.

 

 

 

November (Tadingyut/Tazaunmone)

 Matho Thingan (Yangon) / 20th - 21st November

 Kahtein Thingan Offering (Country wide)

Hot-air balloon Festival (Shan State) / 20th - 21st November

 Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone / 20th - 21st November

Mathoe Robe Weaving Contest

Mathoe robes weaving ceremonies are held at various prominent pagodas in big cities like Yangon and Mandalay. Mathoe robes weaving contests on the Massive Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon are the most significant in Myanmar.

Mathoe robe means the weaving of the robe must be completed within same night and must be offered to the Buddha before dawn. Preparation for Mathoe Robes weaving contests is taken place on the platform of the Shwedagon Pagoda in the evening of the eve of the full moon day of Tazaungmone. Nine teams of 60 Religious Associations of the Shwedagon Pagoda take part in the contests. The weavers are from various parts of the country. The weaving women are kept ready for weaving prior to the contest. The Mathoe Robes weaving contests open at 5pm. A contesting team has six members including the team leader. Weavers are selected based on stamina, energy and thoroughness and the other members stand by for assistance. Visitors can witness the communal work in this contest and contestants make great endeavor in weaving the robes. Enthusiasts encouraging the contestants include foreign tourists as well.

After the contest, gluing, sewing, pattering with golden papers and gluing golden lilies respectively are prepared in Mathoe robes. At the dawn of full moon day of Tazaungmone, prize-winning team lead a procession of offering the Mathoe Robes to four Buddha Images at four archways of the Shwedagon Pagoda and other prominent pagodas.

Hot Air Balloon Festival

November is the best time to travel as there is no more rain and the environs are still green, no muddy and not yet dusty everywhere in the region. At that time of the year, the Hot Air Balloon Festival is usually celebrated on a grandeur scale. The festival has now become a proud tradition of the Shan people and is a major tourist attraction.
In Taunggyi, the capital of the Southern Shan State, the festival is celebrated annually on a grand scale for 6 days. Lu Ping festival commonly known as hot balloon festival is said to have seen the origin of Pa-O minority, one of the many ethnic groups in the region. There, the word Lu Ping generally means eliminating all evil by giving alms and offertories to Buddhist monks. On the occasion, people also enjoy fun and merriment by holding firework and hot air balloon launching competitions, competing over their beauty, lasting hours in the air and attitude they can gain. Day balloons are usually in the form of Pagodas and animals such as elephant, dragon or duck while the night balloon are usually in the shape of rugby ball, huge elongated paper balls with small-lighted multicolored paper lanterns hung around their sides. Every balloon is hand-made using bamboo frames and locally produced paper, made from the mulberry plant.
Night balloon are larger and more elaborate, equipped with firecrackers and fireworks. The pyrotechnic display starts at a pre-determined height. All the fireworks are traditionally made, using gunpowder, charcoal and a little bit of magnesium.
On this great occasion, over 350 balloons are released throughout the festival every year. It is a great opportunity to observe this marvelous festival held once a year in Myanmar.
(The exact dates of festival vary from year to year according to the Myanmar lunar calendar).

 Kahtein Thingan Offering (Country wide)

Kahtein Festival is held annually, after the duration between the Full Moon Day of Thadingyut and the Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone. The Kahtein robe offering and donation of Kahtein tree or the Padaytharpin are also another famous act in Myanmar.

 Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone

Tazaungmone in Myanmar Calendar is the month of November. It is among the 12 months when the rainy season ends and winter comes in. At that time, in Myanmar, the seasonal Khawei flowers are in full bloom. On the night of full moon day of Tazaungmone, 9,999 candles were lighted and offered to Koehtatkyi Pagoda in SanChaung Township, Yangon Division.
On the auspicious night, the word ‘Atula Dipati Mahamuni Thetkya Koehtetgyi Badhha’ if add, you will get the number 9 which we called Koenawin and the omen which means free of enemies and diseases, exactly, we started to light of 9,999 candles and offered them to Buddha. 9, 999 candles were lit around the pagoda in groups and to get the best place, they have to draw lots.
At designated place the groups started to prepare for the festivity at 2 in the afternoon. At four the music artistes played the traditional harp and offer music to the Buddha. In the evening at about 5:22 p.m., the grand ceremony commenced. All those present first take the five precepts and say the prayers for offering the lights unanimously and unison.
At 6:09 exactly, the Master of Ceremonies gave 11 minutes for people to take up position. Before long, the sound of Aka Ratu came out. All electric bulbs were then put out on the pagoda and people started to pray and recite partitas.At the auspicious hour, the conch shell was blown and later the playing of the brass gongs and bells could be heard simultaneously.
Together with these auspicious sounds fire works came out from the either side of the throne of the pagoda and at the same time the lights of the candle came out as if a lighted blanket was removed, it was a breath-taking site and all those present lit candles and offered it to the great Buddha image. Fire crackers are known as Ta Zaung in olden days. And since it is placed atop the pole and lighted we called it Tazaung Daing. During the Tazaungdaing festivals of spirits is also held.
On the full moon day of Tazaungmone, all the stars completely shown out and at midnight on that day, people usually eat vegetable curry and it is believed the bitter Maezali bud salad, you will be free from all diseases.Streaming from that belief, people usually prepare Maezali bud salads and share it with friends. This is one of the treasured habits of Myanmar.
To prepare Mezali salad, first you will have to choose tender buds about 9 baskets, clean and rinse it and then boil it until it becomes soft and tender. Then you will have to pound it until it becomes pasty. Then you mix the paste with groundnut oil, pounded ground nut, fried onions, beans, fried Dahl, sesame , cabbage, green chili and salt to taste. It is a vegetarian dish which Myanmars adore.
By watching the 9,999 candles lighting festival at Koehtatkyi Pagoda and by enjoying the Maezali salad, we all hope you will share our fine tradition and culture which we, Myanmar preserve and adore to date. May you all share our merits of good deeds.

 

December (Tazaunmone/Nadaw)

 Kayin New Year Festival / 28th December - 03rd January

Kayin New Year day is a National Public Holiday in Myanmar. Traditional Kayin costume was worn by most of the celebrants at the events. Many young and old Kayins wear their traditional colourful dresses and go around the city, visit relatives and enjoy the festival. In Hpa An, the capital city of Kayin State, dance competitions are held every year.

 
 

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