Myanmar is known as the country of temples and festivals. Each month of the Burmese calendar (lunar calendar) has its own beauty, its own seasonal festivals that celebrate and honor the protection of spirits. Like most festivals in Asian countries, festivals in Myanmar play an important role in the culture, customs and spirituality of the Burmese people. Although some are large and national and others smaller and local, they all symbolize Myanmar's vibrant life and cultural richness.
A few festivals of Myanmar:
The Ananda Pagoda Festival takes place at Bagan, one of the richest and most attractive archaeological sites in Asia. The festival is organized for the purpose of social gathering, reunification, propagation and perpetuation of Buddhism. It is believed that this festival originated in the first period of the Kingdom of Bagan. In the course of history, villagers from around Bagan usually went to the festival on their oxcarts and set up camp there. Until now, some people still use this traditional method to go to festival.
During the Ananda Pagoda Festival, many shows are presented by local theater troupes and large markets are set up with traditional items of the country and local food. It is also the opportunity to hear the prayers of hundreds of monks singing scriptures continuously for 72 hours and the chance to observe the monks making their way through the crowd of worshippers. This atypical scene, taking place within the magnificent Bagan archaeological area, allows curious travelers to enjoy the traditional way of life of the Burmese people during the festival.
The Burmese New Year marks the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season. It is one of the most popular festivals in Myanmar and is a public holiday throughout the entire country. An auspicious celebration, the Burmese people will usually visit pagodas and monasteries, offer alms to monks and express respect to their parents, teachers and elders. It is tradition for younger generations to visit their families and wash the hair of their elders as a sign of respect and gratitude.
One of the main highlights of this festival is the water splashing, which is meant to cleanse the body and head of evil and any guilts of the past in preparation for the new year. Given that April is usually one of the hottest months of the year, being splashed with water all day can come as a great relief! Stages are usually set up around the cities and villages with buckets full of water - make sure to protect your electronics and wrap them in a waterproof container! This festival can be compared to the Songkran Festival in Thailand, which takes place at a similar time.
The Festival of Lights, also known as the Thadingyut Festival, marks the end of the Buddhist Lent and celebrates the day that Buddha and his disciples returned from the heavenly abode. "The Buddha came back at night, and Buddhists enlightened to welcome him." During the festival, people decorate their homes with colorful candles, electric lights and paper lanterns. It is also a time when pilgrims visit the major religious sites, such as Shwedagon Pagoda, to light candles and pay homage to the Buddha and ask for merit.
On a trip to Myanmar, on this occasion, you will see pagodas, houses, parks and streets illuminated by a colorful glow of candles and lanterns. People also participate in many curious and amazing activities in the streets and it is mesmerising to discover these scenes of local life by strolling through the illuminated streets of the country. It is also the moment for the Burmese to give thanks and to pay homage to monks, parents and elders.
Among one of Burma's most spectacular festivals, the annual hot air balloon festival takes place in Taunggyi near Lake Inle in November and marks the end of the rainy season. Thousands of local and international visitors visit Taunggyi every year to see the release of thousands of floating lanterns in the night sky to the sound and colours of the fireworks. It should be noted that during this impressive and gfabulous festival you should make sure you are sheltered from the fireworks which can sometimes cause accidents. There are many observation points set up far from the crowds which allow you to appreciate this festival, one of the most colorful in the country.
Contact your Shanti Travel Expert to find the best places to observe the highlights of these festivals of Myanmar.