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myanmar culture & tradition

Thingyan Water Festival

Thinngyan, the Water Festival is the most unique and colourful with the merriest occasion in Myanmar. During Thinngyan days the people throwing water each other since the Myanmar believe that Thinngyan water has the power to cleanse the evil and sins of the old year. The water festival called "Thinngyan" falls on the last four days before Myanmar New Year day, which is in the second week of April roughly on the twelfth or thirteenth, according to the Gregorian calendar. Thinngyan water festival time is the merriest time for Myanmar young and old. Almost the whole populations are in the most joyous mood; roam around the city in cars or on foot to throwing and splashing water each other.
Elaborately decorated pavilions and pandals called Mandats are built beside of almost every street in front of government offices and private business establishments. Special Thingyan songs play all the time. Some pavilions have raised platform for traditional dance performance. It is really eye-catching, beautiful Myanmar damsels sporting springs of yellow Padauk blossoms in their hair and a round patch of traditional Thanakha on their cheeks. All the people, mostly young boys and girls, some not-so-young, sometimes parents and kids ride on the open top jeeps, and pick-up trucks come to the pavilions to play water and to see the dance.
The Myanmar believes that Thinngyan water has the power to cleanse the evil and sins of the old year. There is an interesting legend attached to this festival. It is believed that the king of celestial beings - Thagyarminn - descends to the earth on the first day of Thinngyan to take note of how mortals behave. He records good deeds on a gold parchment and bad on a parchment made from dog skin. The time the celestial king descends marks the beginning of the 'change' (Thinngyan comes from a Sanskrit word which means change).
While Thinngyan is a time for fun, it is also a time for religious reflection. People go to temples to do merit and offer food to monks, pay homage to elders and bathe Buddha images. Food is prepared and offered to one and all. Young people pay respects to their elders by washing their hair, cutting their nails and offering them gifts.

Nat Pwe (Nat-Festival)

  Myanmar has its won special breed of spirits or nat, as well as these more common ancestral and ephemeral types. With their roots in Hindu as well as prehistoric animistic cultures, Myanmar's multitudinous unofficial 'outside' nats can be found at every gate-post, village entrance and temple, standing guard in their nat shrine (nat houses) over a dazzling array of territories.
Nat-Pwe illuminates the still active cult of the thirty-seven nats in the forgotten land of Burma. Difficult to define, nats are the beings between a spirit and a god. They are powerful beings, hard to placate and easily upset, that can be bestowed both good fortune and bad luck on their followers. The cult has numerous devotees, shrines and annual festivals of particular nats.

Ko Gyi Kyaw Spirit Festival

Ko Gyi Kyaw is a happy spirit who loves to drink and gamble and see his worshippers sing, dance and be merry He is the patron of gamblers. This annual festival in his honor is celebrated in his home town, Pakhan in Yayza Gyo Township for eight days.

Taung Pyone Spirit Festival

Taung Pyone Spirit Festival is a popular festival usually held in August at Taungpyone near Mandalay. According to tradition, Nats are spirits that must be appeased or they will wreak havoc in peoples' lives. The two Nat Brothers honored during Taungpyone Nat belong to the 37 well-known Myanmar Nats.
The story of the two Nat Brothers originated during the rule of King Anawrahta, when it was the duty of every person in the Kingdom to contribute a brick and a handful of sand for the construction of a Pagoda. The brothers failed to contribute their share and orders came from the King for them to be mildly punished. Unfortunately, the Nat Brothers were accidentally killed.
The King was remorseful and built a big Nat (spirit) shrine by the side of the Pagoda honoring the two brothers. The homage-paying festival is now held annually to appease the spirits as it is believed that the Nat Brothers can fulfill your wishes, protect you from ill-fate and danger, and bring good luck, prosperity and progress.

Yadana Gu Spirit Festival

This festival honours the mother of the two Taung Pyone spirit brothers. She is the Goddess of Popa and her main shrine is on Popa Crest, near Bagan. She too is a powerful spirit and protector of women.

Kasone Festival

Kasone Festival is the one of ritual event of pouring water to Bodhi tree (Bo Tree / Ficus Religiosa). The festival takes place on the full moon day of Kasone; this day is also known as the Buddha’s day. Pilgrims pour water on the Bodhi trees in pagoda compounds to keep them fresh in the summer heat of May.
The processions of men and women of all ages can be seen on the platform of local pagoda with their fine attire. Young women and men dressed their finery and carrying earthen pots in their hands or their heads and go to pour the sacred Bodhi tree at the Pagoda platform. Food is also served after the ceremony occasionally. People perform the others charitable acts on this day.

Thta-Mané Festival

This country - wide traditional festival celebrates on or around full-moon day of Tabaung in Myanmar calendar among the Myanmar community. The celebration on a good harvesting, although the name actually comes from the food made of glutinous rice cooked with groundnuts, coconut shreds, sesame oil, ginger and garlic traditional eaten at this time or year. It is cooked in water and then in oil in large, concave iron cooking pots.


Htamane' is one of the famous Myanmar traditional edibles made from sticky rice. Stick rice is the major ingredient and others such as cooking oil, peanut, sesame, coconut flakes, garlic, onion and water are to cook in a huge pan/wok on a big stove using fire-wood. Since the diameter of the pan/wok is over 3ft in diameter (4) strong men are required to operate a pan to cook. While cooking the continuous stirring is required for evenly cooked. Then (4) strong men have to stir with (4) big long wooden spoons like oars to cook evenly. When cooking end you can try the delicious and nutritious "Htamane". Then taking some for offering Buddha and monks and all the rest are made into packets and sharing the neighbor.

Festival of Light

Myanmar has lighting festivals in October and November as Thadingyut Lights Festival and Tazaungmone Lights Festival.

Thadingyut Lights Festival

Thadingyut Lights Festival is held on the full moon day of Thadingyut in October marks the end of the Budditst Lent. It lasts for three days during which houses and streets in cities and towns are brilliantly illuminated. Pagodas are also crowded with people doing meritorious deeds. It is not only a time of joy but also of thanks giving and paying homage to teachers, parents and elders.
After three months of quiet, Myanmar takes on a festive mood again. The three-day Festival of Lights during Thadingyut symbolizes the return of the Buddha from heaven and angels lighting the path of his descent to earth.

Tazaungdaing Lights Festival

Tazaungdaing Lights Festival is held on the full moon day of Tazaungmon according to the Myanmar Calendar (mid-November). Houses and public buildings are colorfully illuminated everywhere. Kathina robes and other requisites are offered to the Holy Order at Kahtein festival (ceremony of offering robes to monks). The offering of Mathothigan is held on the eve of the Full Moon Day of Tazaungmon. Mathothingan is a robe that is woven in a day. Today, teams of weavers compete with one another to complete weaving robes overnight. The woven robes are then offered to the great images of Buddha.

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