Myanmar Festivals 2017 & 2018

NAR-GA NEW YEAR’S FESTIVAL, Chin State
Jan. 9 – 10, 2017
Jan. 12 – 10, 2018

In Kham-Ti or the surrounding villages of Kham-Ti, Nar-ga festivals are held from Jan. 12 to 16. On 12th, an opening ceremony is held in the morning and in the evening there is traditional dance with bonfires. On New Year day they have a competition of traditional sports, and gathering of sub tribes of Narga, once fierce warriors in their bright and exotic dresses, celebrate with rice wine roasted meat and tribal dances performed with loud beating of drums.

ANANDA PAGODA FESTIVAL, Bagan
Jan 7 – 12, 2017
Dec 27. 2017- Jan. 1, 2018

There are evening entertainments such as Zats: a variety of dance, song, short and long plays, Anyeints: a performance of a few hours in which number of jokers caricature current situations and or person strung together by a traditional dancer, popular movies shown in open air. It is also a popular sales fair where all kinds of goods, some of them are locally produced, are sold. The most interesting aspect of this festival is the caravan of bullock-carts in the pagoda compound, camp under the shady trees.

MAHAMUNI PAGODA FESTIVAL, Mandalay
Jan. 28 – Feb. 11, 2017
Jan. 17 – 31, 2018

Falls on the full moon day of the Myanmar month of Thabodwe. This festival usually lasts for 14 days. Glutinous rice contests are also held on the pagoda’s platform. A variety of incense sticks are burnt for the Myanmar Buddha image on the full moon day. During this festival many people from all over the country make the pilgrimage to the Mahamuni Pagoda. Evening entertainment such as Zats (a variety of dance, song and short & long plays), Anyeints (a few hours long performance during which a number of “jokers” caricature current situations and /or persons, strung together by a traditional dancer) and open-air movies. In the daytime, there are many stalls selling Myanmar snacks, displayed on rows of long tables.ns and or person strung together by a traditional dancer, popular movies shown in open air. On full moon day there is a communal offering of food and various domestic articles to the monks from the nearby monasteries (ca. 600) lined up as in usual offerings.

GOLDEN HILLTOP FESTIVAL, Kyaik Khauk Pagoda
Feb. 6 – 12, 2017
Jan. 26 – Feb. 1, 2018

The atmosphere at the Festival of the Golden Hilltop of Kyaik Khauk Pagoda is similar to a fun fair. A multitude of stalls are offering local foods, ceramic and clay pots of all sizes, furniture and bamboo mats. Most of the pagoda festival has evening entertainments such as Zats, Anyeints, some stage show and movies shown in the open air the whole night for every day. Villagers nearby come to the festival by ox-carts, which can be seen just before and on full moon day.

SHWE SARYAN PAGODA FESTIVAL, Shwe Saryan Village, Patheingyi, Mandalay
March 4 – 13, 2017
Feb. 21 – March 2, 2018

45 minutes drive form Mandalay on the way to Maymyo (near Hton Bo), You can also take a small boat on the Douhtawaddy River and visit the pagodas nearby, Myanmar traditional toys, boxes, baskets, mats made of dried toddy palm leaves are the best selling village products in this festival.

INDAWGYI FESTIVAL, Hopin, near Myitkina
March 5 – 13, 2017
Feb.  22 – March 2, 2018

Ca. 100 miles far from Myintkyina. Approx. five hours drive up to Indawgyi. This festival is held yearly for ten days. One intriguing fact is that two sandbanks are washed up by the waves before the festival begins so that people can walk from the bank to the pagoda. People believe that one is for human use and the other is a passage for the gods. These two sandbanks disappear into the lake shortly after the festival.

BAW-GYO FESTIVAL, near Hsipaw / Shan State
March 6 – 22, 2017
Feb. 23 – March 11, 2018

Once a year, only during the festival days, the locked up “four Buddha images” are brought out for display, worship and gilding with gold leaf. We can see tea-growing Palaung tribes from the hills and jewelers from Kyauk Me who try and sell their products there. Many kinds of gambling are allowed during the festival days only.

NAY WIN TAUNG PAGODA FESTIVAL, Maymyo (Pyin Oo Lwin)
Mar. 10 – 14, 2017
Feb. 27 – March 3, 2018

Same as Nyan Taw Pagoda Festival. Traditional Shan festival. It takes place in the northern part of Maymyo, about an hour’s drive from the downtown area.

KEKKU PAGODA FESTIVAL, Taunggyi
March 10 – 14, 2017
Feb. 27 – March 3, 2018
On the full moon day alms offering is carried out by the native (Pa-O) people dressed in their traditional black out fits. There is the festival market also.

MAUNG DONG NAT FESTIVAL, Monywa
March 17 – 27, 2017
March 6 -16, 2018

This festival is known to be the most important gathering of witches imaginable. According to the legend, Ye Kin Kadaw, the Queen of the Witches, the favourite wife of King Taung U, had extraordinary powers. The king sent her into exile, as his other wifes did not like her supernatural power. She went to Maung Dong, where she got drowned. Her oldest statue, only 30 centimeters high, can thus be found in Maung Dong. During this festival all 37 kinds of nats will be placed in a shrine, devotees offering them bunches of bananas, green coconuts, betel leaves, colourful arrangements of flowers and ‘money bouquets’.

AH-LONE FESTIVAL
March 15 – 20, 2017
March 4 – 9, 2018

On the Shwe Bo Road, twelve kilometers north of Monywa, the town of Ah-Lone celebrates its festival in March. The heroine of this festival is Ma Ngwe Daung (Ms. Silver Wings) who was a daughter of the Ah-Lone Bodaw, a minor Indian prince who came through Tamu and Kaleitmyo to Myanmar. The celebration of this festival is related to the love story of Ma Ngwe Daung. During the festival the pilgrims appeal to Ma Ngwe Daung to give them the opportunity to have as many mistresses as hairs on their head. The festival appeals also to pilgrims wishing to control or to spirit away illness with the lustral waters on offer there.

THINGYAN WATER FESTIVAL Throughout Myanmar
April 13 – 16, 2017
April 13 – 16, 2018

The Burmese New Year will be celebrated in April and everybody joins in the fun of dousing each other with water. Youths go out for the enjoyment, while elder people take retreat in monasteries and pagodas to perform meritorious deeds.

One cannot avoid of getting very wet because every one throws water at everybody. People drive through the city in open cars and there are stages along the street where people throw water. During this time, everything is closed: restaurants, shops, markets, museum, etc.

SHWEMAWDAW PAGODA FESTIVAL, Bago
April 18 – 31, 2017
April 7 – 19, 2018

Same with the other pagoda festival. There are evening entertainment such as Zats, Anyeints, stage show and also a popular sales fair where all kinds of goods, most of them are clothes, toys & kitchen supplies (not expensive ones).

SHITE THAUNG PAGODA FESTIVAL, Mrauk Oo
May 7 – May 11, 2017
April 26 – 30, 2018
This pagoda festival will be held on full moon day, the same as the others pagoda festival but they have one exiting thing is they have a traditional boxing show.

SHWE KYET YET EVENT, Amarapura
May 7 – 11, 2017
April 26 – 30, 2018

Crowded with people pouring water to the sacred Bo Tree.

SAND STUPA FESTIVAL, Pa Le Ngwe Yaung / Mandalay
May 5 – 10, 2017
April 24 – 29, 2018

In three different Mandalay quarters stupas are built with sand within 1 night. Sand stupas are built up with five segments gradually converging to the top. Each layer of white sand is supported by bamboo-mats and -posts. The celebration dates are not the same and depend on the different quarters where the festival is held.

SAND STUPA FESTIVAL, Yahai Quarter / Mandalay
May 5 – 10, 2017
April 24 – 29, 2018
In three different Mandalay quarters stupas are built with sand within 1 night. Sand stupas are built up with five segments gradually converging to the top. Each layer of white sand is supported by bamboo-mats and -posts. The celebration dates are not the same and depend on the different quarters where the festival is held.

SAND STUPA FESTIVAL, Min Thar Su Quarter / Mandalay
May 5 – 10, 2017
April 24 – 29, 2018

In three different Mandalay quarters stupas are built with sand within 1 night. Sand stupas are built up with five segments gradually converging to the top. Each layer of white sand is supported by bamboo-mats and -posts. The celebration dates are not the same and depend on the different quarters where the festival is held.

THIHOSHIN PAGODA FESTIVAL, Pakokku
June 4 – 9, 2017
May 25 – 29, 2018

There is festival market and also evening entertainments such as Zats, Anyeints and movies.

CHIN LONE FESTIVAL, Mahamuni / Mandalay
June 29 – July 9, 2017
June 18 – 28, 2018
Chin Lone (Cane Ball) tournament held in Mandalay. It is used to held in Mahamuni Pagoda compound almost a month for every day and night. Cane ball players from all over the country come up to Mandalay to enjoy this festival. We can enjoy to see several ways of playing Chin Lone and racing by either team or individual together with local / folk music played while entertaining the audience.

SHWE KYUN PIN NAT PWE MINGUN (NAT FESTIVAL IN MINGUN), Mandalay
July 26 – 31, 2017
August 14 – 19, 2018

During the Myanmar month of Tabaung. According to the legend, the youngest brother of King Mindon fomented a rebellion and succeeded in ousting the Sawbawa of Hsipaw. Several of his six children got killed in this confrontation and Mindon’s brother did not rest until he eliminated all potential successors of Sabawa of Hsipaw. One day his two surviving children were struck by a teak trunk and drowned in the Shweli River at Thit Maik Myun while attending a boat race. Their mother died from heartbreak about this loss. The ‘Pagoda of Despair’ (Lwan Hpaya) was built at this place. Since then, the children were declared to be nats and thus became the keepers of the river. After harvest time, hundreds of farmers, wearing colourful dresses, arrive with their beautifully decorated bullock carts at the Myatheindan Pagoda. They build a big tent as temporary housing for the nat images. During these days the mediums perform Nat Dances in order to be granted a good harvest for the next season and to the delight of hundreds of spectators.

TAUNG BYONE NAT FESTIVAL, Taung Byone village near Mandalay
July 31 – August 7, 2017
August 19 – 26, 2018

This festival is known as the major gathering spot for spiritual mediums. According to the legend, Byat Wi and Byat Ta, two Indian brothers, got extraordinary powers after they ate the body of a dead alchemist. Byat Wi, the older brother, lost his supernatural power, after he walked under a clothesline on which women’s skirts used in childbed had been hung. He was captured and died after his loved ones offered him a quid of betel and a cup of water. Byat Ta was killed by King Anawrahta’s magical lance, after he was again late to bring fresh flowers from Mt. Popa for the Royal Audience, and thereupon his wife Popa Medaw also died from broken heart.

15 years later, the two sons of Byat Ta and Popa Medaw, which were adopted by King Anawratha, forgot to bring one brick each to build the “Pagoda of Wishes”. King Anawratha soon found out, who was responsible for this omission and gave the order to gently hit them with a fillet stick. As they were in the trap which the king’s son, Kyansittha, planned from beginning on, they were instead hardly hit with a bamboo stick and died. Hundreds of mediums (Nat-Kadaw) and thousands of pilgrims come once a year to Taung Byone, where the statues of the two brothers are placed in a shrine and there stands still the “Pagoda of Wishes” with the two missing stones. It is the most impressive Nat Festival in Myanmar. Offerings and dances, the inflow of merchants, the constant arrival of pilgrims and the intensive uses of loudspeakers continue day and night.

YADANA GU NAT FESTIVAL, Amapura, Mandalay
Aug. 15 – 21, 2017
Sept. 3 – 9, 2018
Known as mother of Taungbyone Festival. Most enjoyable because of the rowing boat trip to the site. The festival is held annually in honor of Mt. Popa. Medaw, Mewanna (Mother of the two Lords) who came back from Taunbyon Festival, halted on her way back to Mt. Popa at the Yadanagu as her transit camp.

BO BO GYI NAT FESTIVAL, Taungthaman Inn, Mandalay
Aug. 29 – Sept. 10, 2017
Sept. 17 – 29, 2018
Bo Gyi is believed to have high level alchemical and to have expired to become a Nat. On the eve of ceremony pilgrims throw tealeaf packets at one another from racing exacts. It is regarded as a pledge that one who is hit must take a visit next year without fail.

PHAUNG DAW OO PAGODA FESTIVAL, Inle Lake
Sept. 21 – Oct. 8, 2017
Oct. 10 – 27, 2018
Watch the procession of leg-rowed boats, which are ceremoniously tugging four Buddha statues situated on a royal barge clockwise around Inle Lake. Throughout the event leg-rowed boat races are being held and you will come across them during the excursion on the lake. Hundreds of other vessels travel in the entourage in a general festive atmosphere. Thousands of people from around the Shan State attend this most holy of all Shan celebrations.

INDEIN PAGODA FESTIVAL, Inle Lake
Oct. 1 – 5, 2017
Oct. 20 – 24, 2018
Buddhist ceremony held at unique site of old shrine complex in Inle Lake.

DUMMY ELEPHANT FESTIVAL, Kyauk Se, Mandalay
Oct. 4 – 6, 2017
Oct. 23 – 25, 2018
This unique and exotic elephant dance held at Kyaukse, a small town not far from Mandalay. A huge but light elephant figure is made with bamboo and paper. Men take their places inside the figure and dance around the town to the accompaniment of Dobat and Drums. The elephant dancers circle three times at the foot of the hill to pay homage to the Shwethalyaung Pagoda. It is a dance that requires precise rhythm and timing in order for the elephant dancers to maintain uniformity inside the elephant figure. Numerous life-size paper dummy elephants sing and dance to the accompaniment of music.

THE THADINGYUT (FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS), Throughout Myanmar
Oct. 4 – 7, 2017
Oct. 23 – 26, 2018
To mark the end of the Buddhist Lent, and is also one of the most prominent festivals of the year. Pagodas, houses, public buildings, parks, and monuments are all illuminated and there are various kinds of activities for everyone to enjoy. Thadingyut is not only for joyous but also thanksgiving and paying homage to Buddhist monks, teachers, parents and elders, and asking pardon for whatever misdeeds might have committed.

BALLOON FESTIVAL, Taunggyi
Oct. 28 – Nov. 3, 2017
Nov. 16 – 22, 2018
The fireworks are in the form of rockets. There is always hot balloons competition day and night. Day balloons are usually in the form of Pagodas, and animals such as elephant, dragon or ducks while the night balloons usually in the shape of rugby ball, huge elongated paper balls with small lighted multicolored paper lanterns hung around their sides and balloons would sting along fireworks and fire sticks which are set off mid-air fireworks.

SHWEZIGON PAGODA FESTIVAL, Bagan
Oct. 31 – Nov. 7, 2017
Nov. 19 – 22, 2018
At the Shwezigon Pagoda Festival there are evening entertainments such as Zats: (a variety of dances, songs, short and long plays), Anyeints (a performance of a few hours in which a number of “jokers” caricature current situations and or person strung together by a traditional dancer, popular movies shown in open air. On full moon day there is a communal offering of food and various domestic articles to the monks from the nearby monasteries (ca. 600) lined up as in usual offerings.

KYAIKHTIYO PAGODA FESTIVAL, Golden Rock
Nov. 3, 2017
Nov 22, 2018
The boulder, standing on the edge of a peak in the highest mountain range, is said to be freely hanging over the cliff. The place is famous as a pilgrimage and holiday outing spot. On this particular full moon day number total 9,999 candles are ceremoniously lit at mid night.

ROBE WEAVING CONTEST, Throughout Myanmar
Nov. 3, 2017
Nov 22, 2018
The robe weaving ceremony is held on the eve of the day before full moon day in one night. This is a competition for the weaving skills between teams of women to complete special saffron-coloured robes, called “Ma Tho Thin Gan” from the evening onwards at dawn. It is still done in the traditional way and lots of people enjoy watching the demonstrations. At dawn, the robes are offered to the great image of Lord Buddha and followed by the prize giving ceremony for the winners.

TAZAUGDINE LIGHT FESTIVAL, Throughout Myanmar
Nov. 2 – 6, 2017
Nov. 21 – 25, 2018
Another festival of light held on the full moon day throughout the country. Home and streets are illuminated and Buddhists are provided robe and various requisites at Kathein (Ceremony of offering robes to monks). On this particular full moon day number total 9,999 candles are ceremoniously lit at mid night. Visitors are served with mixed salad of maezali buds, believed to possess powerful, magical and medicinal properties if eaten at this time.

PHO-WIN-TAUNG FESTIVAL, Monywa
Nov. 2 – 4, 2017
Nov. 21 – 23, 2018
Like other pagoda festivals, with the usual entertainment provided. Myanmar thanaka, sandalwood and woven textiles (cotton blankets and longyis mainly) can be bought at the various stalls around the pagoda area.

MT. POPA NAT SPIRIT FESTIVAL, Mt. Popa
Dec. 3, 2017
Dec. 22, 2018
Mt. Popa being considered most important Nat worshipping center, thousands of country folks and town people in their joyous, light-hearted and merrymaking in this particular festival. Thousands of animals were sacrificed to the Nats during the festival however this practice has been stopped since Bagan period. Spirit possession and overall drunken ecstasy are part of the celebration.