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
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.
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.
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.
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