Thingyan (The Water Festival) is the most interesting and greatest occasion for merry-making with the largest number of people taking part in it throughout the country. During the Thingyan Festival, people pour water over one another to the melodious tunes of singing and dancing at the decorated pavilions. Pouring water signifies cleansing the body and mind of evils of the past year. During these auspicious days, Myanmar people perform a lot of meritorious deeds to usher in the New Year such as keeping Sabbath, going to pagodas and monasteries, offering food and aims to monks, paying respect to parents, teachers and elders, setting free fish and cattle and so on. Thingyan is a distinctive festival which is always awaited with great joy and excitement by Myanmar people every year.
On the Kyaik-hti-yo pagoda site, 9000 oil lamps are lit to worship the Buddha in order to welcome the New Year and to thank for the Buddhist teachings. The magical golden rock pagoda is on top of a giant and golden boulder.
The most spectacular event of the year is the Hot Air Balloon Festival held every November in Taunggyi commonly called the Taunggyi Tazaungdaing Festival. Thousands of local pilgrims and international tourists choose to visit Taunggyi, especially to watch scores of giant paper animals being inflated and floated off into the sky. The competitions run during the day and at night when the sky is colorfully illuminated with hot air balloons. Hot air balloon in theshape of elephant , ox, horse, water buffalo, bird, pig, fish, owl, and parrot are sent up into the sky.
Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda is one of the famous principal pagodas which houses five Boddha images. This pagoda is the main attraction of Inlay Lake and is situated in the middle of the Lake. Thousands of people from communities around the lake and villages in the surrounding mountains carry fruits and flowers on lacquer trays in their own boats and pay homage as the holy barge passes. Teams of the lake’s famous one-legged-rowers compete in annual boat races.
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.
There are two pagodas which enshrine footprints of the Buddha. The site is on the bank of Mann Creek where bamboo cabins are erected every year for local travellers to enjoy cool swims during the heat of summer.
This is one of the most famous pagoda festivals in Bagan; one of the Asia’s most amazing and richest archaeological sites. The Great Ananda Pagoda Festival is said to have been going on continuously since the Bagan period. Long ago, people from many villages around Bagan came to the festival in bullock-carts and made camps for the whole duration of the festival. Even now some villagers still come to the festival in the traditional way. Visitors can definitely enjoy the traditional lifestyle of the locals of Bagan during this festival.
During Tazaungdaing Festival, the Shwedagon is the scence of an event of national interest, the Mathothingan weaving contest. From evening till before midnight, girl weavers feverishly vie with each other to be the first to complete weaving a yellow robe. The robes, four in number,are offered to the four images on the Pagoda representing the Four Buddhas: Kakkasanda, Konagamana, Kassapa and Gotama.
Naga New Year Festival is one of the rarest ceremonies in Myanmar. There are more than 49 different clans with their own distinctive dresses and dialects. They usually gather annually to celebrate the New Year which falls on January 15.Package tours are available to visit the Naga New Year Festival of Myanmar.
It is enjoyable to see the singing and dancing of the worshippers to KoGyiKyaw; a happy spirit who loves to drink and gamble. This annual festival in his honor is celebrated in his home town; Yayzagyo, Mandalay region.
In Pyin Oo Lwin, an expanded flower festival is annually held at the National Kandawgyi Botanical Garden from 1st December for about two weeks. Pyin Oo Lwin is a scenic hill station and it is located in Shan highland at an altitude of 1070m. More than 130,000 foreign flower species and local flower species are displayed in the festival. It is situated about 67 km from Mandalay and be accessed by car from all parts of the country.
The Kachins ; one of the major races of Myanmar, take great part in this festival and many Kachins from abroad come back to meet and dance at this special event. The Manaw dance is performed at Manaw Festival which originated as part of the Nat or spirit worship of the past.
The Alaungdaw Khathapa Shrine is located in a National Park, one of the renowned ecotourism sites, of Yinmarbin Township, Sagaing Region. It is crowded with the local people from surrounding area and far distances. The festival is held by lighting to the Pagoda in Full moon Day of Tabaung (March). People go there not only for just pilgrimage but also for observing the National Park.
Elephant dance competition is celebrated at the Light Festival on full moon day of Thadingyut period which falls
mostly in October. It is held in Kyaukse, situated on the Yangon – Mandalay Highway Road near Mandalay. On the first day, two men took place inside the colorfully decorated elephant figure, made of clothe and bamboo and paper decorated with tapestry and participate in dance competitions. The elephant with the best dance performance and behaviour wins the gold. Food and flowers are offered to the Shwethalyaung pagoda on the second day.