MYANMAR NEW YEAR (OR) WATER FESTIVAL IN APRIL
The most popular festival in Myanmar, Thingyan, is celebrated 4 days or 5 days in Leap year in April. Officially known as Myanmar New Year festival, it is popularly celebrated by throwing water at one another, signifying the cleaning of the sins of the old year. Singing and dancing are inseparable parts of the fun-filled expect of Thingyan festivities. Water throwing pandals spring up all over the cities and the roads are clogged with vehicles like Jeeps and pick-up trucks laden with revellers intent on visiting the pandals. At some of the pandals, Myanmar snacks of various descriptions are offered free to all and sundry. The other aspect of the festival is a religious one; people try to perform various meritorious deeds at the start of the new year to usher in the good and the auspicious. Monasteries and nunneries are filled with temporary monks and nuns; the meditation centers are overflowing with yogis and the pagodas are full of devotes who are jostling with one another to offer lights, incence, flowers and water to Lord Buddha. In brief, the Water Festival on the Myanmar New Year festival is an integral part of Myanmar cultural scene.
THADING GYUT LIGHTNING FESTIVAL
The Thadingyut festival is a three-day long celebration in Myanmar calendar month Thadinggyut which usually falls in October. For three nights including the Full Moon night, public buildings, houses and streets are lit up with colourful electric lights or paper lanterns. In both rural and urban areas, fairs are organized usually with great success, as people are always ready to flock to them. Young people enjoy playing with small-scale fireworks, sending up small-size hot-air balloons, lighting large numbers of candles or tea lights at pagodas. At Thadingyut, a traditional custom of paying respects to elders of the family or the community and one’s teachers is still a strongly practiced one. In actual fact, Thadingyut festival has its roots in religious commemoration. This is the time when the Buddha descended back to the earth accompanied by celestial beings lighting the way down elaborately decorated stairway conjured up by the supernatural beings. The Buddha had been in the celestial abode of his mother who passed away during his birth to preach the Dahamma in repayment of the filial debt he owed her. His tasks done, he came down to the earth, the abode of humans, in great glory with the celestial beings paying extravagant obeisance to him. The earthlings were enjoyed at having the Buddha bank among them and to witness his magnificent glory. This is the religious background of Thadingyut celebrations, which is still remembered, and its religious relevance still kept alive by Myanmar people. The religious and cultural impact of Thadingyut can only be seen and felt when one experience it first hand on Myanmar soil.
TAZAUNG DINE LIGHTNING FESTIVAL
November is the month that coincides with Myanmar calendar month Tazaungmone that gives its name to the Tazaungdine festival. This traditional festival is similar to that of Thadingyut in that pagodas, buildings and houses are decorated with lights again. Tazaungdaing reflects more of a social flavor as people vie with one another to set up food stalls in their own quarters on streets to offer free snacks of the kinds popular with Myanmar people. People of different walks of life, different religions and races, different ages mingle on the streets, visiting these food stalls, enjoying the camaraderie as much as the food freely and with great good with offered. It is an amazing scene that a visitor to Myanmar soil will definitely enjoy.