Festivals In Myanmar
Ananda Pagoda Festival, Bagan
The Ananda Pagoda Festival is held from 7-12 January. The entertainment includes Zats: A colorful round dance with signing, short and long theatre performances: Anyeints: open-air performances lasting several hours, during which comedians caricature current events. Traditional dances and popular films are shown in between. During the festival, there is also a popular market that takes place, where a variety of items and many local products are sold. An interesting feature of the festival is the caravan of ox carts on the grounds of the pagoda situated under the shade of trees. The most popular time to visit the festival is full moon day, on the 12th January.
Kachin Manaw Festival, Myitkyina
Kachin is one of the states that hosts a wonderful festival known as Manaw. The Kachin, the mountain people or the “The Scottish People of Burma” celebrate the Manaw festival. It is one of the most popular festivals in Myanmar. The festival has been held for more than three decades. The different versions of the Manaw festival celebrate the New Year, battle victories, the reunification of tribal groups and much more. Everyone if the town gets involved in the spiritual dance, in which people form a line one behind to other. The traditional Manaw columns are decorated with strikingly colorful Kachin images. They are located at the center of the festival site. All those who come to the festival wear their best traditional dress. The main activity at the festival is the dance around the erected Manaw columns, very similar to totem poles used by North American Indians. The Manaw festival takes place in Myitkyina and Putao, in the state of Kachin.
Naga New Year Festival, Sagaing Division
In Kham-Ti and the surrounding villages of Kham-Ti, the annual Naga New Year Festival is held from 12-18 January. On 12 January, there is the opening ceremony of the Naga New Year Festival with various competitions and traditional sports, along with the coming together of Naga sub tribes. There were once feared warriors in their bright and exotic festival costumes, celebrating with rice wine and grilled meat and accompanied by ancient tribal dances and a loud drumbeat.
Mahamuni Pagoda Festival, Mandalay
The festival falls on the full moon day of Thabodwe and as a rule, lasts for 14days. Competitions are also held on the pagoda platform for the production of sticky rice. On the full moon day, a variety of incense sticks are lit in front of the Mahamuni pagoda. During these festivals, thousands of visitors make the pilgrimage to the Mahamuni pagoda. Evening entertainment like Zats (a variety of dances, song and short theatre performances) and Anyeints. During the day, Burmese snacks are sold on small stands.
Shwe Saryan Pagoda Festival, Mandalay
21 February – 2 March
Indawgyi Pagoda Festival, Myitkyina
22 February - 2 March
Located approximately 200km from Myitkyina, Indawgyi pagoda is five hour drive. The festival is celebrated every year over 10days. One impressive feature is the two sandbanks, which appear from the lake just in front of the festival, allowing people to pass the riverbank to pagoda. The locals reserve a sandbank for the people. The second passage is meant for the gods. Shortly after the festival, both sandbanks disappear again into the water.
Pindaya Caves Festival, Pindaya
23 February – 1 March
During the festival at Shwe Oo Min Pagoda Cave in Pindaya, thousands of believers besiege the cave to pay homage there. Hundreds of little stands offer delicious local food. Shan handicrafts, all types of cheroots, Shan umbrellas and much more local products are sold at the festival. Diverse entnic groups from throughout the Shan State visit to the festival in their traditional costumes.
Baw Gyo Festival, Hsipaw
23 February – 11 March
Once a year and only during the festival days, the four figures of Buddha which are otherwise kept behind closed doors are brought out and newly glided with gold leaf. Local teas and jewelries are sold at the festival. Gambling, which is otherwise forbidden is allowed during the festival.
Kakku Pagoda Festival, Taunggyi
27 February – 3 March
On the full moon day, the indigenous Pa-O come to give alms, dressed in their traditional black costumes. There is also a market during the festival days.
Maung Dong Nat Festival, Monywa
Shwemawdaw Pagoda Festival, Bago
It is similar to other festivals, with typical evening entertainment involving Zats, Anyeints and stage shows. Typical Myanmar goods and everyday household items are sold at the market stalls around the pagoda.
Thingyan Water Festival, Throughout Myanmar
Before the Myanmar New Year celebration, the three-day water festival is held. From morning to night, it is mostly young people who splash and pour water over to each other, while elder people retreat into the monastery.
Popa Ceremony, Mt.Popa
Nat dances on Mt.Popa. It is very crowded and difficult to get up the mountain.
Sand Stupa Festival, Mandalay
Over the course of one night, stupas are built from sand in three different districts of Mandalay. A stupa consists of five parts which are positioned above one another and supported by bamboo mats and posts. Every district holds its building ceremony on a different date.
Shwe Kyet Yet Event, Amarapura
Shit Taung Pagoda Festival, Mrauk Oo
The pagoda festival takes place from 26 to 30 April. The most important day is the 29th April (Full Moon Day). It is the same as other pagoda festivals with one exception, traditional boxing show.
Thi Ho Shin Pagoda Festival, Pakkoku
The pagoda festival takes place from 25 to 29 May. Throughout the event, there is a market and evening entertainment with Zats, Anyeints and movies.
Chin Lone Festival, Mandalay
The Chin Lone (a ball made of bamboo or rattan) tournament is held in Mandalay on the site of the Mahamuni Pagoda. Players from all parts of the country take part in the event. The aim of this ball game is to keep the ball in the air for as long as possible without using hands. The payers have had tremendous practice at this game and their acrobatics never cease to amaze onlookers. The games are accompanied by native music.
Shwe Kyun Pin Nat Pwe, Mingun
Taung Byone Net Festival, Taung Byone Village
The Taung Byone Nat or Spirit Festival is very popular celebration which is held during the rainy season (June-September). Taung Byone is situated about one hour drive from Mandalay. The homage celebration is now held annually to appease the spirits as it is believed that the Nats can make wishes come true, protect against illness and danger and bring their worshippers wealth and success.
Yadana Gu Nat Festival, Amarapura
Known as the Mother of Taung Byone Festival. The short trip by rowing boat to the festival site is entertaining. The festival is held every year in honor of Mount Popa Medaw, Mewanna (mother of the two lords) who, on return from Taung Byone Festival to Mount Popa, established a transit camp in Yadanagu.
Bo Bo Gyu Nat Festival, Taungthaman
It is said that Bo Bo Gyi was a highly respected alchemist. He is now honored as a Nat. In Amarapura, near Taungthaman Lake, over which the famous U Bein Bridge runs, pilgrims get together every year for this festival. Pilgrims throw small packets of tea leaves at one another. It is said that whoever is hit must also visit the festival next year.
Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival, Inle Lake
The most famous festival at Inle Lake. The images of Buddha from the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda are paraded around the lake on a ceremoniously decorated barge. They stop at every village to give believers the opportunity to pay homage. The festival is colorful and full of traditional influence. Traditional dances and boat races are held. The festival normally lasts up to three weeks.
Kyaukdawgyi Pagoda Festival, Mandalay
Indein Pagoda Festival, Inle Lake
A Buddhist festival which is held in the shrine complex of Indein, an only recently rediscovered area of ruins with countless pagodas built in both Bagan and Shan styles.
Elephant Festival, Kyaukse near Mandalay
This unique and exotic festival of dancing elephant is the annual high point of Kyaukse, which is located approximately 50km south of Mandalay. The entire town takes part in the competition, in which it is not just about the best elephant dance, but also the most beautifully decorated elephant. As part of the dance, two men hide within a life-size elephant and sing and dance while accompanied by music.
Thadingyut Lightening Festival, Throughout Myanmar
The Thadingyut or Festival of Lights is celebrated throughout the country. It begins one day before full moon and ends after three days. Houses and streets are beautifully illuminated. The nation’s pagodas are very crowded. It is not only a festival of joy, also a time to give thanks to parents and teachers and to ask those who you wronged during the year for forgiveness.
Kaung Hmu Daw Pagoda Festival, Sagaing
One particularly interesting aspect is the sight of the caravan of ox carts loaded with local goods such as hand-woven cotton, rice mats and cane mats as they temporarily occupy the pagoda grounds, under the shade of trees.
Balloon Festival, Taunggyi
The Hot Air Balloon Festival is celebrated once a year on the second Festival of Lights after Buddhist Lent, and lasts for four days. Traditionally, it is the festival in which the natives pay homage at the Sulamani Temple by releasing decorative balloons towards the heavens. The paper balloons are between 4, 5 and 6m high and are decorated on the outside with colorful lanterns made of cellophane. Lights are attached to the lanterns, giving the balloons a different pattern. The hot air balloon rises quickly because of the flame heating the air inside the balloon – a 3 to 5m long trail with various fireworks being dragged along behind which constantly explode. Take a look at how the small children’s balloons are made, along with the competition between the different groups, for whom it is all about the most beautifully decorated and the highest ascending balloon.
Shwezigone Pagoda Festival, Bagan
The Shwezigone Pagoda Festival takes place from 19 to 22 November. The entertainment includes Zats: A colorful round dance with signing, short and long theatre performances. Anyeint: open-air performances lasting several hours, during which comedian’s caricature current events. Traditional dances and popular films are shown in between. On the full moon say, there is a communal offering of food to monks. Up to 600 monks arrive here from the surrounding monasteries.
Thanbodde Pagoda Festival, Monywa
Just like other pagoda festivals with typical entertainment. Myanmar Thanaka, sandalwood and woven textiles (predominantly cotton sheets and longyis) can be bought from the various stands surroundings the pagoda grounds.
Phoe Win Taung Festival, Monywa
It is similar to the other festivals, with typical evening entertainment involving Zats, Anyeints and stage shows. Typical Burmese goods are sold on the market stalls surrounding the pagoda such as Thanaka, sandalwood and hand-woven textiles.
Shin Mar Le Pagoda Festival, Thazi
Tazaungdine Lightening Festival, Throughout Myanmar
A colorful gathering, during which the monks are offered yellow robes and other everyday household items. This gift giving ceremony is known by the name of “Kahtane”. Every Buddhist regardless of status wants to take part in this at least once in their lifetime. Sagaing in particular is a big attraction for believers as it offers a unique concentration of monasteries and pagodas in the surrounding area.
Robe Weaving Contest, Throughout Myanmar
The robe weaving contest is held on the evening before the full moon. In this competition, teams of women compete from dusk till dawn for the title of most skilled weaving team of the saffron-colored “Ma Tho Thin Gan” robes. The weaving is performed in traditional style. The skill and handicraft of the various teams is a feast for the eyes. The finished robes are presented to the Buddha at daybreak. The price is then awarded for the most beautiful robe.
Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda Festival, Golden Rock
The Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda is one of the most sacred sites in Myanmar. Zats and Anyeints are performed to entertain the people. Small bamboo huts are erected where traders sell their goods. At midnight, 9999 candles are lit.
Shwemyatmhan Pagoda Festival, Shwe Taung near Pyay
Mount Popa Nat Festival, Mt.Popa
Mount Popa is certainly the most important Nat places of worship in Myanmar. Thousands of pilgrims from the rural areas and cities delight in participating in this festival. In former times, animals are sacrificed and offered to the Nats. However, since the Bagan Dynasty, such practices have been forbidden, Spirit processions and drunken ecstasy are all part of the celebrations.