TAUNG PYONE means a hill which is full of smile to represent the atmosphere of the festival with smiling people with their mood of happiness in the festival, is a small village situated about 10 km north of Mandalay, on the road between Mandalay and Mogok. It normally takes 45 minutes by car or by a motorcycle from downtown Mandalay to reach the Taung Pyone festival.But except the usual festive traffic jams. Famous TAUNG PYONE or NAT FESTIVAL is always held in the month of August and in Myanmar lunar Calendar, the 10th waxing day of Wagaung and is held for 8 days. The history of the Taung Pyone Pagoda dates back to Bagan Period. During the era of King ANAWRAHTA, on one occasion the king camped around that Taung Pyone area and would like to donate a land mark pagoda there and ordered the army to contribute their personal labour individual regardless of ranks and positions in the construction of pagoda.
However In the King’s Army, there were two young generals named Shwe Phyin Gyi and Shwe Phyin Lay who were adopted sons of the King and were believed to posess tremendous power in physical that is invisible were very popular among others.
As youngsters, they enjoy drinking and gambling all the time and missed to obey the King’s order to contribute their parts which became an opportunity for the jealous ministers to make a plot by not placing the two bricks that were supposed to be done by the two generals.
So the two bricks were missing after completion of the pagoda (The space for the missing bricks is still there). When the King found out space without bricks as a sign of treasonous act, he ordered to execute the two heroes and since then they became Nats (Spirits), and the King deified them as the guardian spirits of the area. They are the most popular among the 37 Nats deified by the people.
This festival in their honour is attended by tens of thousands of mediums and worshippers like traditional festival. Series of 37 Nat statues on the stands are offered food and “Zun Pann”, white beautiful flowers, but not pork products, cash and alcohol. The mediums entertain the crowds with Nat dance with the traditional Nat music and performance during night and day. The whole area is occupied with circus and cultural dances, music and magic shows, fortune tellers and tattoo shops. Thousands of people are visiting the Nats Pavilions to consult a medium for their future prospects and fortunes. Orchestras come to play for the mediums who dance to make the spirits ‘joyful’. Some pilgrims come to the festival for worship and traditional festival but others come for fun. Some wait the whole year to take part to this special event because their wishes came true and fulfilled after they worshiped the two brothers. They believe that the two brothers have power to grant wealth to their followers.
Bathing day is the most popular time of the festival, drawing large crowds. Festival-goers wash the images of the Taungbyone brothers in the nearby river before they are placed in a shrine where pilgrims can make offerings. People who visit the festival every year have their own beliefs, optimistically hoping that their business, social life, health and everything else will prosper when they touch the palanquin carrying the images.
During the festival you can find many shops selling traditional crafts – handmade necklaces, bracelets, different children’s toys, snacks and local products.
Even if you are not actually a Nat believer, you will be amazed with circus, cultural dances and magic shows as an unforgettable day.