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Myanmar Water Festivals, Thingyan and other


Asia and Myanmar is full of very colorful and deep rooted festivities. Here we show many of them with weight on visual impression, with this colorful actions the main medium to explain are pictures and videos. To visit a place where this takes place is no problem as long as it is around the big cities like Yangon, Mandalay or so since the hotels, restaurants, accommodation and infrastructure is ok.

To visit event in a rather remote area make sure first to find a reasonable hotel or accommodation otherwise you will have some problems, the best is anyway to let a experienced travel agent in Yangon or Mandalay to do this job, its really necessary.

If you still want to be on your own but have a problem to find accommodation check with a monastery in that area, most let you stay there for a night and don't forget a donation when you depart. The biggest event in the country is the water festival in spring which is very similar to Songkran in Thailand.

Over the centuries the country absorbed various festivities from other countries, a typical example is Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, Diwali has a similar value like any other, its a holiday, shops are closed, everyone is out and happy.

Most are pagoda celebrations,

they are on everyday somewhere in the country and the idea is to have a good time, praise Lord Buddha, the temple and Buddha Statues. Just think about all this Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Philippine, celebrations and the Indian multicultural festivities of different ethnic groups many of this is very similar as in Burma.

The main problem until now is the absence of infrastructure, means no electricity in most parts and roads are real bad, with a few exceptions.

Tagu (April) In the country the lunar calendar is used that means month are counted according to the movement of the moon which is 'La’ in the local language, the same word as for the moon. The year begins with the 29 day month named Tagu, and ends with the 30 day month called Tabaung. The festivity of Tagu is Thingyan, the water festival. There is evidence that this went on since about 500 years ago. Thingyan' means 'moving  from  one year  to another'.

Why people throw water on one another during this Thingyan Festival? Because they want to wash away the sins of the past years, but there is soooo many water, does it mean there where so many sins?, read more.

waterfestival or thingyan

Kason (May) is the second month and it becomes real hot, it’s to be in a sauna. Lakes, ponds and reservoirs reach record low level and the earth breaks up only the big rivers such as the Irrawaddy still carry plenty of water.

Even when from time to time some rain showers splash down it’s nothing but the well know drop on a stone. This is an auspicious month for Buddhists because the full moon day is important for religious purposes. Legend tells that 4 major events in the live of Lord Buddha took place on this full moon day. There is a tradition to pour water on a bodhi tress during this month, read more.

Kason Festival

Nayon (June) is the third month in the lunar calendar and last month of summer. The heat slowly decline and monsoon comes which greens the country again.
Farmers begin to plough their fields for wet cultivation.

In the old days a royal plough ceremony was held in the hope for a good harvest. It was on the full moon day of Nayon when Lord Buddha delivered the Maha Thamaya Sutta to the Devas and Brahmas. Food and religious items are passed to the monasteries and the learning periode for the year is ending. Festivities connected with religious examinations are held for the monks, read more.

Nayon festival

Ordination is the festive event of Waso, first indications of a ordination festival was found in a stone inscription at Bagan from 1213, describing the ordination of a monk.

That usually takes place throughout the year but if it’s at the full moon day of Waso it is something special  because one of the close follower of Buddha became monk that day.

Waso Festival

At Wagaung is the "casting lot festival" although a Buddhist one there is a similar with Jewish, this is in the middle of the Buddhist lent and indicates the peak of it.

People come together and a very good atmosphere is created. There is dancing, singing and lots of merry making and monks are invited to come to house and they get the best available food, read more.

Wagaung Festival
Tawthalin and the royal regatta. Since the country has plenty of water in rivers and lakes plus is almost encircled by the Indian Ocean boats and ships play and important role in every day life. Long time ago also in terms of warfare and many legends and myth center on regattas. A very popular legend was about the Bagan King Alaung Sithu (1112-1167) and his journeys, read more. Tawthalin Festival

Thadingyut is the festival  of light Myanmar style and reminds to when Buddha set foot on earth and a welcome ceremony was performed, that happen on the full moon day of Thadingyut and the people commemorate this important event in the life of the Buddha with many big and small celebrations. Buddhism has penetrated any aspect of life in a much deeper way as in Christianity only Muslim are even more anchored with religion and the daily life, read more.

Thadingyut Festival

With Tazaungmon or Tazaungdine, there is a common believe that the event is a celebration related to the constellation of planets since the people already did this in pre Buddhist times when the Nat cult was number one, now this is number two and Buddhism is top. Tazaung means illumination by an oil lamp and mon means to embellish. To commemorate this fruits, rice, lotus flowers and 1000 oil lamps are loaded into a boat and have it floated on the river, read more.


At Nadaw the festivity of Maha Peinne takes place means the image of this Nat in one of the pavilions on the Shwezigon Pagoda precinct is worshipped and a local saing (orchestra) and a dance group are making a longer performance to entertain the pilgrims and offerings are made to the Nat and parts of the former family of them. There are various temples throughout the country serving the Hindu community but at this yearly event all come together in the temple.

Others are trapping wild elephants and tame them after plus conferring titles and passing rewards, read more.

Nadaw Festival
Pyatho came out of kind of a military parade with elephants, horses, swords men, lancers, chariots and all kind of war games necessities, combat skills where shown, lance throwing etc.

In 1993 the festivity was revived and is held from time to time similar o the regatta festival, read more.

Pyatho Festival

Thabodwe is the month when the bonfire are starting to burn, by using sandal or other fragrant wood, the first is quite expensive. The wood is burned in an open container and brought to the pagoda where it is offered to a Buddha sculpture.

The offering of the fire to a statue remembers to one case when the Buddha got very cold in the Pubayon Monastery at Savatthi. In the chill of Thabodwe he kept hands and feet on the oven. To remember this instance Buddhist offer bonfires to sculptures and images.

Tabodwe Festival

Tabaung is the 12th month on the local calendar partly still in winter and already a bit in the summer, trees and plants start to bloom. There are two interpretaion of Tabaung, first sweet memories because it gets warm and second this is the period when palm sugar from toddy juice is made.

This has various use one of the famous is to make liquored out of it which is quite a strong stuff. and lets the personal spirits fly quickly and high. The nature colors up and everyone gets new energy, actually it's spring in the local version. In the north where the mountains reach about 6000 meters is just like in Europe.

Tabaung Festival

Waterfestival - Thingyan

Since people know they have committed sins the whole year, there is a  belief that these sins could be washed away and purified both in mind and spirit by throwing one another with Thingyan Water.

Thus everyone is happy with a belief  that  they would be completely innocent after they are purified during the festival, physically and spiritually in the next year. As  a  meritorious deed during the water festival, some youngsters wash  the hair of old  people  and them too. Moreover, there's  also  a  custom to  buy  live fish  and cows  during the festival and  let  them  loose in sanctuaries of  rivers and lakes on the final day of the festival which is Ah-Tet.

Thingyan or Myanmar Water Festival
Myanmar water festival or Thingyan in April at Yangon


This is a local custom that concerns religion. Most  people  believe  in  Theravada Buddhism and killing any living creature  is  a  sinful  act, so better be nice.

In Thailand the same is Songkran

is very similar event even almost at the same date. People will throw water on everyone with the intention to purify their mind and spirit, its really getting wet. Tourists visiting during  that time will also get a wet experience, if you are here at this time, you'll feel this great atmosphere.

May you  be able  to visit the country then and all your sins be purified both countries have adopted a couple of festivals from neighboring countries, like the festival of lights - diwali or divali - from India, in Thailand Loi Kratong and others.

When Myanmar was a monarchy, the royal regatta festival

was held in the month of Tawthalin (late September) and it remains one of the twelve monthly events on the calendar. In those days the king of and his entire court attended the celebration, with the royal barge often heading the other boats as they proceeded in regal splendor down the river.

regatta festival ceremonial barge
Myanmar Festivals are many one is the Regatta festival at Yangon
old ceremonial boat
  rowing competition
king rowing
ceremonial barge
at kandawgyi lake yangon
at kandawgyi lake yangon

Regatta Festival at the Kandawgyi or Royal Lake floating the Royal Coach
t the Kandawgyi or Royal Lake, floating the Royal Coach

regatta rower
Regatta rower

Music and song filled the air for the festival in Myanmar-on those occasions, held not only for the entertainment of the royal family, but also to evaluate the competitors, as potential recruits for the King’s Navy Races during the regatta festivals provided the opportunity for Myanmar’s kings to reward and recognize the skills of their troops and to review the strength of the naval forces.

For the spectators, royal races during the festival were an occasion to cheer and exhort their favorite teams in Myanmar-Burma. Chronicles show that royal regatta festivals were held Myanmar-Burma by eleven monarchs beginning  with King Anaukphetlun, 1605-28, and ending with King Thibaw. However, it seems quite likely that every Myanmar King hosted regatta festivals during his respective reign.


Thadingyut: The Festival of Lights at the end of Buddhist Lent

Thadingyut (October) is the end of Buddhist lent in Myanmar-Burma. For the whole last three months of the rainy season in Myanmar-Burma, Sabbaths are kept by the laity, young or old. It is the festival of lights on the full moon day. For this festival houses and streets in cities and towns in Myanmar-Burma are brilliant by illuminated. Pagodas in Myanmar-Burma are also crowded with people doing meritorious deeds during the festival. The festivals is not only a time of joy in Myanmar-Burma but also thanks giving and paying homage to teachers parents and elders and receive their blessing.

This Myanmar  festival is originated in the story of worldly beings welcoming back the Buddha with lights as He descended from “ Thvatimsa”, the highest abode of the NATS ( celestial beings) in Myanmar-Burma. He spent the three months preaching to the celestial beings headed by His mother who has died soon after giving birth to Him and reincarnated as a “DEVA” by the name of “Santussita”. It will be remembered that “Gautama Buddha” after displaying unheard of miracles under the “GANDA” mango tree, had disappeared  from that mango grove and gone to “Tavatimsa” and spent the three months of rains-retreat. ”Tavatimsa”, the celestial abode is on the top of Mount Meru which itself is a celestial mountain with the legendary gold, sliver and ruby stairways, and colorful lanterns held in the hands held in the hands of the gods, lining up the descent of the Lord. During the festivals nights fire balloons are also seen rising up and soaring in the sky in Myanmar-Burma. 


Tazaungdine Festival

Unsatisfied yet with the fun of the lighting festival Myanmar-Burma of Thadingyut, the people start preparing for another lighting festival called Tazaungdine or Tazaungmon.

Tazaungmon  or Tazaungdine (November)is the festivals month when  the Krattika planet (Pleiades) accompanies  the Moon in Myanmar-Burma, and  when Mahavinayaka awakes from his long slumber. It is a pre Buddhist custom in Myanmar festivals to do homage to this deity on the Full Moon night of Tazaungmon with offerings of incense, sweet-meats and lights.

Taunggyi Fire Balloon Festival at the capital of Shan State in Myanmar, the people celebrate the Tazaungdine festival with Kahtein (offering of monk robes) as well as the releasing up fire-balloons into the sky. Balloons in the shape of elephant, ox, horse, water-buffalo, bird, pig, fish, owl and parrotare released during the Myanmar-Burma festivals.

The Taunggyi fire balloon festival is the biggest festival in Myanmar. The festival is attended not only by Taunggyi Citizens but also by people from southern Shan State and many different places of  Myanmar-Burma. Taungyi’s  Kahtein tradition festivals is amazing  and worthy of  reverence.

Naga New Year Festival

The four main tribes and the 49 clans of Myanmar Naga have their settlements around the source of the Chindwin River until up to the Indian boarder and deep into India, read more.

Naga Girls at new year festival Naga new year festival  

A high light in nearly all these festivals is the performance of one of the great birth-stories of the Buddha which tell the story of one of the previous existences before he attained to Buddha hood. There are ten of these great zats or awes all of which are well known to Buddhists, and inculcate the ten great virtues to be cultivated by all who are striving to reach Nirvana.

These plays are very long and take all night to perform. They are very like the mystery plays of mediaeval times in Europe and combined a good deal of broad humor as well as religious teaching. Nowadays, however, the tendency is to substitute modern plays which have not the same religious interest as the old well-loved birth-stories.
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