Festivals in Myanmar
January (Nadaw / Pyartho)
Kachin Manaw Festival (Kachin)
There are seven states and seven divisions in Myanmar. Among them, Kachin is one of the states which have 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 festival is the celebration of the New Year, Victory in battles, reunion of the tribes etc. Everybody joins the spiritual dance lined up behind one another. The traditional Manaw poles are decorated in colorful Kachin motifs and are centered in the middle of the festival ground. All who came to the festival wear their best traditional costume and the main feature of the festival is dancing around the erected Manaw poles quite similar to the totem poles of North American Indians. Manaw festival is held in Myitkyina and Putao in Kachin State.
Ananda Pagoda Festival (Bagan)
Ananda Pagoda is probably the finest largest and best preserved of all the Bagan temples. Symbolizing the limitless wisdom of Buddha, there is a month long sanctified festival for the temple Ananda, the most beautiful one out of 2000 holy monuments in Bagan, Myanmar. It is usually falls on January every year. The busiest day of the festival is on the full-moon day of the lunar month. Villagers and pilgrims around Bagan roll in the sacred site of Ananda for the consecration.
This is also the best time to see not only the ritual of Buddhists but the festival is also meant for social gathering, reunification, propagation and perpetuation of the religion that is Buddhism. During the festival, walk around in sea of vendors and shops that sell traditional Myanmar food-staff and enjoy the local atmosphere in locality.
Naga New Year (Sagaing)
Numerous Naga tribes spread throughout the Northwestern hills of Myanmar. Most of the Naga are from the Chin State. The Naga festival is social but it is also to exchange previous year experiences to make plans for the coming year and to discuss how to overcome difficulties.
They pray for abundant crops and domestic animals and to have good weather. Another aspect of this festival is reunion of relatives, who are away from home. They worship to their deities by scarifying the animals. The festival is usually in January.
February (Pyartho / Dabodwei)
Full Moon Day of Dabodwei (Countrywide)
Htamane Festival (Countrywide)
Htamane festival is held between February and March, throughout the whole country. It is made of sticky rice and sesame seeds. One large pan requires 4 small baskets of sticky rice.
Making of Htamane is not very easy. First the sticky rice must be soaked overnight. The next day, start frying the small pieces of coconuts and other ingredients. Then pour in the soaked sticky rice into the pan. Now, we need two strong men to do the stirring of the rice until it is cooked. After preparing Htamane, it is then offered to the Buddha and is given away for free to all the visitors to the pagodas.
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.
Salone Festival (Tanintharyi Region)
Salon festival is usually held during the month of February. The festival is at Majungalet Village on Bocho Island near Lampi Island in Myeik, Thanintharyi Division. It is celebrated every year, to promote tourism in acquaintance with Salon and Myeik Archipelago as one of the tourism attractions for International Market. Here is where you will witness traditional and spiritual dances, Diving competitions and a fascinating way of life. There are also rowing competitions, folk singing and a traditional Salon feast. The Salon people or sea gypsies live nomadic sea lives for seven months of the year living off their ingenuity and the resources of the ocean. Encountering this chance is a rare opportunity.
March (Dabodwei / Tabaung)
Shwe Dagon Pagoda Festival (Yangon)
The festival of the Shwedagon Pagoda is celebrated on the fullmoon day of Tabaung (March) every year. This is the land mark of Myanmar, visible from all directions. It situates on the hill of Seinguttra and therefore it lore the original name of Seinguttra Ceti.
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 campy is renovated with modern techniques.
Kakku Pagoda Festival (Taunggyi)
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.
Full Moon Day of Tabaung (Countrywide)
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.
Sand Pagoda Festival (Countrywide)
One of the traditional festivals of the month Tabaung (March) is the festival of the pagoda or stupa on the broad sand banks along the river of the locality. It falls on the full moon day of the month, Tabaung. During the Pagoda festival, there are shopping malls where the visitors from adjacent villages buy and sell. The free shows of Theatrical troupes, dancing troupe and marionette troupe are engaged.
April (Tabaung / Tagu)
Mann Shwesettaw Festival
The land of festivals and the land of Pagodas are the names that make Myanmar famous among the well nation. Mann Shwe Sattaw Pagoda Festival is one of the most significant Pagoda festivals in Upper Myanmar. As you go along the stairways to the upper Sattawyar, you will find various stalls selling all sorts of handicrafts and traditional herbal plants. Further above when you reach Mutsoetaung Zedi, you will be able to witness a sight which is so full of greening. And also at the lower Sattawyar at the foot of the hill, it is bustling with devotees. Locally made lodging houses built with bamboo are waiting for the people who come here to rest and refresh themselves with a well-rested overnight stay. As there are stalls which are staffs with products from all over the country, pilgrims can conveniently buy what they went in one place. The cool and pleasant Mann creek flows steadily around both Sattawyars and adds sparkle and life to the Pagoda festival itself.
One exhilarating experience you will get when visiting Mann Shwe Sattaw is bathing in the cool, clean and sparkling waters of Mann Creek after you have had an exhausting day of pilgrimage. To go on a trip to Mann Shwe Sattew Pagoda Festival in Central Myanmar which is like an oasis in an arid zone, you will experience the feeling for a place. Which gives you respite from the torrid heat and at the same time, experience the pilgrimage to a sacred and holy place of Myanmar.
Thingyan Water Festival (Countrywide)
Myanmar is a land full of festivals and fun. The Mekong Water Festival includes the countries Thailand. Cambodia. Myanmar and Laos. The celebration is called Songkran in Thailand, Chaul Chnam Thmey in Cambodia, Thingyan in Myanmar and Pimai in Laos. But it is believed that water festival washes away sins and welcomes the New Year. The water festival represents the most popular, raucous and colorful celebration of the year for more than 120 million people who will abandon any thoughts of work and bring their nations to a standstill. People around the country gather together again and visits pagodas, offers and pay homage to the monks, play traditional games and celebrate with their joyous spirit.
After playing around and having fun throughout the country, the city-dwellers welcome the New Year on the 17th by cleaning the floors of the pagodas and monasteries, washing old and aged peoples' hair, helping to cut them their nails. Some offer free food and drinks for everyone who visits the pagodas, some make other donations. If you can be here with us, you will never forget the true joy.
Thanakha Grinding Festival (Rakhine)
Thanakha is a cream or make up obtained by grinding Thanakha tree's bark. Females use it as a protection against heat as well as a decoration. However, it is not unusual to see males also wearing them. Thanakha grinding event in Sittwe is a traditional event held on the eve of Water Festival i.e. Thingyan. Sittwe is the capital of Rakhine State. The Rakhines are quite similar to the majority Burma people in many ways but are a completely different ethnic group with history going back thousands of years.
On Thingyan eve, in the early part of the night, young women grind thanakha barks and roots to a fine cream by grinding it along with a sprinkle of water on rounded stone slabs. Young men play musical instruments and dance to support the event. Once the thanakha is ready, all go to nearby pagodas and wash the Buddha images with it as a new-year eve good deed.
Full Moon Day of Tagu (Countrywide)
Shwe Maw Daw Pagoda Festival (Bago)
Myanmar New Year Festival (Countrywide)
Myanmar New Year Festival is held after the consecutive Thingyan Water Festival. Thingyan Water Festival is enjoyed by both young and old generations throughout the country.
On Myanmar New Year Day, which usually falls on 17th April, Myanmar donates offerings to Monks and elders. The youngsters wash the elder’s hair, cut their nails and do cleanings for them. It is a traditional manner especially done on the Myanmar New Year Day.
May (Tagu / Kason)
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 Buddha hood 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.
June (Kason / Nayon)
Pariyatti Sasana Examination
The religious (Buddhist) examinations are usually held during the month of Na Yone (June). Since the time of the Myanmar Kings, the religious examinations for the novices and monks were held in the court yard annually including written test and viva voice. Nowadays the religious examinations were held for and wide all over the country.
July (Nayon / Waso)
Full Moon Day of Waso
Waso Robe Offering Festival (Countrywide)
August (Waso / Wakhaung)
Mount Popa is a vast volcanic mountain that overwhelms the flat landscape. It is only about one hour drive from Bagan. Popa is located near Bagan and it has many legendary stories about the spirits (Nats) of today. This annual festival is known as Taung Byone festival. It is usually held during the month of August.
The Nats are believed to be super natural powerful beings stated between the gods and the spiritual beings.
The Myanmar still worship them vigorously and believe that the Nats can bring luck and prosperity to the worshippers and can also bring danger to those who do not respect them. The word "Nat" is unclear. It may be derive from the Hindu Natha which means lord, savior or protector.
This festival includes the following matters.
- Preparation for the Ritual
- The Offerings
- The Orchestra
- The Possession
The Nat Pwe is usually held for three days. The first day is for the Summoning the Nats. The second day is the Nats' feast. The third is the day for the Nats' departure. Devotees from all over Myanmar, comes to this special festival and offer their donations and enjoy themselves with the blessings of the spirits every year. They pray for prosperity, fame, and luck for the next coming year.
So if you can have a visit to Myanmar to learn about new cultures and to have extraordinary experience. We recommend that you should visit this special festival of Mount Popa.
September (Wakhaung / Tawthalin)
Phaungdawoo Pagoda Festival (Shan State)
One of the famous principal shrines in Myanmar, this pagoda houses five small Buddha images. Once a year in end September - early October, there is a pagoda festival during which the five Buddha images are rowed around the Lake in a colourful barge. Situated in Inle Lake one of the most dazzling and magical places in Asia. It is held on a grand scale for 18 days usually falls in October (sometimes in September). Four Buddha Images out of five from Phaung-daw-oo Pagoda are carried on royal barge and conveyed around 14 villages on the Lake. The barge is towed by the boats of leg -rowers and hundreds of boats follow the procession. The large crowds of people gather on the lake-shores to celebrate the occasion. It is really a splendid sight.
Among the dance shows and fun-fairs, the most interesting event of the festival especially for foreigners, is their boat race - due to their unique leg rowing. It is the one and only place in the world that one can see such marvelous act.
The festival of Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda is usually held during October. The festival takes about 18 days. It is the biggest occasion held in the Inle Lake¸ Shan State. The festival is held with great magnificence and pageantry. The holy Buddha's images are placed on a decorated royal barge and towed by leg-rowers around the lake.
Inle Boat Competition
There are also Shan traditional boat races participated by leg-rowers. People from all the villages nearby come to pay homage to the Images.
Manuha Pagoda Festival (Mandalay Region)
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 a part 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.
The parade of colourful paper mache figures roam around the city during the festival. The locals create colourful and beautiful decorations of images such as the Manuha King himself. Tigers, cows, elephants, horses, and even some stars of today. The number of representation varies up to hundred. The parade goes on until the end of the day.
Locals and foreign visitors enjoy the sight of the colorful paper Mache figures and also the lifestyle of the Bagan locals. There are other entertainments such as Zat Pwe and Anyeint at the night time. Villagers near and far never miss this opportunity of participate the Manuha Festival.
October (Tawthalin / Tadingyut)
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.
Dancing Elephant Festival (Kyaukse)
Dancing Elephant Festival is also another famous festival in Myanmar. It is held in Kyaukse near Mandalay. It is a marvelous performance of two men together to dance in rhythm. A huge elephant figure is made from bamboo and paper. Men take their places inside the figure and dance around the town to the accompaniment of Dobat and Drums. The elephant dancers circles three times at the foot of the hill to pay homage to the Shwe Tha Lyaung Pagoda. It is a dance that requires precise rhythm and timing in order for the elephant dancers to maintain unity inside the elephant figure. People from far and near come to visit Kyaukse and watch the elephant dance.
Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda Festival (Mon State)
The Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda Festival is a special festival of lights celebration. On the Full Moon Day of Thadingyut, locals offer the lighting of 9000 candles and 9000 flowers to the Biuddha. On the next morning, rice, sweets and other snacks are offered. The platform and passage of the pagoda are usually filled with visitors from all over the country. Tourists also find the golden rock pagoda magnificent. Thadingyut usually falls in October, depending on the lunar calendar. At such a time, the weather is cold up on the mountain.
During the festival time most of the local places and hotels around the pagoda are fully booked. Some people travel to the base of the mountain by car. and then hike up the mountain on foot. Some people climb the mountain by ferry buses. Some hike up with carriers.
November (Tadingyut / Tazaunmone)
Matho Thingan (Yangon)
This festival of Tazaungmon is an auspicious time for offering of yellow robes to the monks. 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 (Siddhata) by a celestial messenger. In commemoration of this event weaving competitions of yellow robes are held all over the country.
An offering of Kathein thingan (ceremony for offering of yellow robes) to the monks is usually a big affair in large cities of Myanmar. Offering ceremonies consist of a thousand and one gifts pooled by the whole town beside the prime gift of Yellow robes. The Kathein festivals account for the greatest significance in Tazaungmone.
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.
Hot-air balloon Festival (Shan State)
Taunggyi is the capital of the Southern Shan State and it lies 1.430 meters above the sea level and has a moderate climate. The most significant festival is the annual Tazaungdine Lighting Festival which is around October and November. Lu Ping festival commonly known as hot balloon festival celebrates by Pa O. one of the many ethnic groups in the region.
On the occasion people enjoy fun and merriment by holding firework-launching competitions. The firework is in the form of rockets. There is also hot balloons competitions on the day and night occasions. Day balloons are usually in the form of Pagodas, and animals such as elephant, dragon or ducks while the night balloons usually in the shape of rugby ball, huge elongated paper balls with small lighted multicolored paper lanterns hung around their sides and balloons would sing along fireworks and fire sticks which are set off mid-air fireworks.
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 San Chaung 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.
December (Tazaunmone / Nadaw)
Kayin New Year Festival
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.