Myanmar Culture and Festivals

Date: 2016-08-02 18:12:06

Kachin Manaw FestivalJanuary

Kachin is one of the states which has a delightful festival known as Manaw. Kachin, the hill people or the Scots of Myanmar, celebrate Manaw festival. It is one of the most popular festivals in Myanmar. The festival is usually held in January. This festival has been held for more than three decades. Manaw festivals is the celebration of the New Year, Victory in battles, reunion of the tribes etc. Everybody in town joins the spiritual dance lined up behind one another.


Tabodwe Harvest Festival(February)

One date firmly stuck to the Myanmar calendar is the annual htamane (glutinous rice) making festival celebrated this month.Harvest Festival is also called "Htamane Festival". Htamane  is a food prepared with sticky rice, ginger, coconut, peanuts and lots of sesame. The festival is celebrated mostly from the first waxing day of Tabodwe to the day of the full moon. Many neighbourhoods, government offices and private groups also gather to create sticky rice.In Harvest Festival, people offer the first seasonal food to the pagoda and the monasteries so as to gain merit and preserve this part of Myanmar Buddhist culture.


Full Moon of Tabaung (March)

It is an important Buddhist festival celebrated on the full moon day of Māgha in Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand, and on the full moon day of Tabodwe in Myanmar. The spiritual aims of the day are: not to commit any kind of sins; do only good; purify one's mind. Māgha Pūjā is a public holiday in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand and is an occasion when Buddhists tend to go to the temple to perform merit-making activities.


Tabaung Pagoda Festivals (March)

Pagoda festivals are similar in nature to agricultural shows (country fairs) or carnivals, and form a significant important part of cultural life, particularly in the countryside. During pagoda festivals, temporary bazaars (including food stalls and merchandise stands), entertainment venues (including anyeint dramas, yoke the performances, lethwei matches, and arcades) are set up in the vicinity of the pagoda.


Tagu Thingyan Water Festival (April)

Thingyan is the Burmese New Year Water Festival. It is a Buddhist festival celebrated over a period of four to five days culminating in the new year. This festival has been fixed Roman calendar (13 to 16 April) equivalent - it often coincides with Easter. The dates of the festival are observed as the most important public holiday throughout Myanmar and are part of the summer holidays at the end of the school year. Water-throwing or dousing one another from any shape or form of vessel or device that delivers water is the distinguishing feature of this festival and may be done on the first four days of the festival. However, in most parts of Burma, it does not begin in earnest until the second day. Thingyan Festival is comparable to other new year festivities in Theravada Buddhist areas of Southeast Asia such as Lao New Year, Cambodian New Year and Songkrann Thailand.


Kason Bo Tree Watering Festival (May)

The Bodhi tree has relations with lord Buddha so it becomes respectable for the Buddhists.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.


Nayon Tipitaka Festival (June)

Student monks are examined on their knowledge of the Tipitaka religious texts, robes and food are offered to monks and nuns.


Waso Robe Offering Festival (July)

Marks the beginning of the Buddhist lent (Vassa); anniversary of Buddha’s first sermon on the Four Noble Truths, sermons and verses are recited, donation of monk robes and shinpyu ceremonies.


Thadingyut Festival of Lights (October)

The Myanmar lunar month of Waso(July) marks the beginning of the three-month Vassa period, also known as Buddhist Lent or the Rains Retreat. During this time, monks are not allowed to travel overnight from their monasteries, and therefore they dedicate these months to intensive meditation and the study of scripture.


Thadingyut, which marks the end of Buddhist Lent and falls in October, is characterized by a gradual change in weather. With the skies now clearing, it is the season of pagoda festivals, music concerts and weddings, with cooler winter weather just around the corner.


The end of Lent is marked nationwide with the three-day Thadingyut Festival of Lights.


During Festival of Lights, pagodas and homes throughout the country are decorated with electric lights, colourful paper lanterns, candles and even small ceramic saucers filled with oil in which wicks are lit. Major religious sites such as Shwedagon Pagoda are packed with pilgrims who light candles to pay homage to the Buddha and gain merit. Each light adds to the incredible spectacle of thousands of small flames burning in the night. Out on the streets, meanwhile, some people light fireworks or launch small hot-air balloons, which silently ascend and drift across the sky before burning out.


Tazaungdaing Lights Festival (November)

Tazaungdaing Lights Festival takes place in the eighth month of the traditional Burmese calendar (mid-November) that marks the end of rainy season in Myanmar. It is believed that this festival derives from Kattika festival, which honors the guardian planets in Hindu astrology. During the festival, houses and public buildings are decorated with colorful lights. It is also a time of games, marching, fireworks, lanterns and hot-air balloons.


Many hot-air balloons made from bamboo and mulberry paper ascends into the sky. Plus, local people often march the streets holding traditional lit lotus flower effigies or parade the streets playing instruments and dancing in celebration of the final day of the Tazaungdaing Festival.


Nadaw Nat festivals(December)

The nats are spirits worshipped in Myanmar in conjunction with Buddhism.

In Nadaw, most Nat Festivals take place in national and regional areas. Ritual feasts in honor of Nats, traditional family gods are celebrated which covers all kinds of celestials and spirits of different levels. Many Myanmar Buddhists make offerings to Nats, beings like humans going around the cycle of life existing on a different plane of existence to look after them.

Mt. Popa is considered most important Nat worshipping center. Thousands of country folk and town people in their joyous, light-hearted and merrymaking are in this particular festival. Thousands of animals were sacrificed to the Nats during the festival however this practice has been stopped since Bagan period. Spirit possession and overall drunken ecstasy are part of the celebration.