Festivals of Myanmar

Myanmar Festivals are mostly based on burmese calendar!
What is a burmese calendar???? check it out.... burmese calendar

Dates changes according to full moon / dark moon dates every year!

All Dates may change without prior notice!
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Myanmar Festival 2009 (Festivals and gazetted holidays)

Full moon celebrations in Myanmar

Pyatho

As Pyatho (during December and January) is completely free from rains and cool, dew-drenched nights, most of the pagoda festivals are celebrated during the month. This means you will find long winding rows of stalls wherein products of various localities are displayed for sale like glazed earthen wares, boxes, baskets made of cane, bamboo or palm fronds, hand woven cotton pieces and other attractive products all around the country.

Thabodwe

The eleventh month in Myanmar calendar (February) is the harvest festival. All products of farm and garden are made into "Htamane", a concoction of sticky rice, coconut slices, sesame seeds, peanuts and some amount of cooking oil. Htamane feast is celebrated in a private circle of friends or among families and everyone has to do something as there is such a lot of work to be done. You will see many exciting "Htamane competitions" competing for the best taste in each district of every town!

Tabaung (Pagoda Festival)

Although being the last month there are many pagodas festivals celebrated widely in the country. Not content with having festivals in local pagodas, people have to build sand pagodas on their own to celebrate and pray.

Thingyan Festival

If you don't mind getting wet and like to party at the height of dry and hot season Thingyan Water Festival is definitely for you! It is the most wildest and amusing event among all the other festivals which also celebrate the Myanmar New Year Festival on the second week of April for three days. It is celebrated all over the country by sprinkling or throwing water at each other to cleanse away all the evil deeds of the past year and welcoming the New Year by performing meritorious deeds on the New Year Day. In temporary stages called pandals along the roads you will see a lot of parties going on, playing loud modern music and they will throw water at anyone at their sight and they will even hand you out the Myanmar traditional snacks for free, so Youths go out for enjoyment with family and friends while the elders take retreat in monasteries and pagoda precincts to perform meritorious deeds.

Bo-Tree Watering Festival

Celebrated on the full moon day of Kason, (middle of May) is an important holiday for Buddhists. Men and women of all ages go to local pagodas in processions to pour water on the sacred Bo-Tree in remembrance of Birth, Enlightenment and Passing of Buddha. The procession is attended by playful traditional music troupes.

Nayon Festival of Tipitaka (Three Baskets of Learning)

In this third month of Myanmar calendar (June) when the monsoon is in full swing, the scriptural examinations for monks and nuns are held and contributions for the cause are donated by the community to supply the comforts and amenities for the candidates. After the life-long dedication of the studies of Buddha's teaching, the candidates have both written examinations and recitation tests to keep the Word of the Buddha alive.

Waso (Dhammasetkya Day)

The full moon of Waso is the anniversary of the Buddha's First Sermon which is also the beginning of Buddhist Lent that last three month, held during June-July. Marriages are taboo and during the Lenten season the monks are not allow to stay over-night outside the monastery precincts. It is the time when people to do meritorious deeds and practice contemplation and self-denial. Even the habitual drinkers take a vow of abstinence for the season, at least. So, in a good way, reminding people for the need for self discipline!

Wagaung, Draw-a-Lot Festival

It is the month for alms-giving by casting lots. The name of each monk is written on a piece of paper which is then rolled up and deposited into a large basket. A representative from each household of the community draws a slip of paper from the basket, and the next day provides an elaborate feast for the monk named on the paper.

Month of Thawthalin

This month used to be the time for boat races all over the country. But nowadays many places do not continue this tradition anymore. The most impressive boat races are held at Inle Lake.

>>> please check Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival!

Thadingyut, Festival of Lights

Thadingyut not only being the last month of Myanmar Lent also celebrates the return of Buddha from heaven to earth by lighting the way for him. On the day before ,during and the day after the full moon day of Thadingyut, people all around the country lighted millions of candles and colorful decorative paper lanterns in monasteries, pagodas, houses and trees. It is also the season when senior citizens in the streets or residences receive gifts and respects from the younger people. 

>>>Also check Hot Air Balloon Festival in Shan state

Tazaung Daing Festival (Robe Weaving Contest)

Another festival even more elaborate with the usual trimmings of music dances and shows which falls in November. This month is the time for offering kahtein robes, considered as one of the most meritorious deeds and other gifts to the monks. On the full moon day of Tazaungmone, you will see women working their looms starting at sunset and weave all night till dawn to make new robes for the Buddha images and monks in rural and urban areas. Young men with traditional musical instruments entertain and encourage the weaver teams and the best teams and the best weaver are awarded prizes.

Nat Festival in Nadaw

In Nadaw (November-December) arrives the time for most Nat Festivals to take place in national and regional areas. Ritual feasts in honor of Nats, traditional family gods are celebrated which covers all kinds of celestials and spirits of different levels. Many Myanmar Buddhists make offerings to Nats, beings like humans going around the cycle of life existing on a different plane of existence to look after them.

>>> check our Nat sheet

Some important Public holidays

Independence Day

Falls on 4th January to celebrate the country's independence gained in 1948 from the British. The ceremony arranged by the government will begin very early in the morning at 04:20 am at People's Park in Yangon. All offices, markets and shops are closed.

Union Day

Celebrated across the whole country to commemorate the signing the Pinlon Treaty back in 1947 which paved the way for national unity and independence. All the representative ethnic groups around the country gather at People's Park in Yangon for the celebration arranged by the government.

Peasant's Day

A celebration held in honor of the farmers who are responsible for the country's mass production of agricultural products.

Armed Forces Day

Armed Forces Day the day of fighting against the Japanese imperialism by the Burma Army for independence.

Martyr's Day

Martyr's Day marks the day of the assassination of General Aung San, the founder of the nation and six other ministers in the middle of a meeting in 19th July 1947.

National Day

The demonstration day of the Myanmar university students against the British join by the whole country in 1920.

Christmas Day

Celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth in all the churches across the country.


Other interesting events and festivals around Myanmar

Manao (Manaw)

Traditional Kachin Manao Festival to celebrate the New Year which is a day ahead of Kachin State Day, 10th Jan. It is a one day event where all the Kachin tribes dressed in unique traditional costumes, gather in Myitkyina to participate this elaborate celebration of victory or achievement and showing gratitude to ancestral spirits to pray for the brighter future. The main feature is tribal dances around the erected Manao poles complete with ceremonial regalia, swords, etc which is quite similar to North American Indians.

Naga New Year Festival

Different Naga clans on the northwestern hills gather in their festive colorful costumes to celebrate the new year. It is a great opportunity to see warrior-like youths with shields, spears and headdresses with boar horns leading a simple life, keeping the custom and tradition. Leshi, Lahe, Khamti and Htamanthi villages take turns in hosting the annual New Year festival. On 14th Jan the traditional Naga Ceremonial Pole will be posted at the festival grounds. After the official opening in the early morning of 15th Jan dance competitions by dance troupes from various Naga villages and traditional sport events. Large bonfire will be lit in the evening and everybody is most welcome to join the event and dance to the sounds of loud beating drums with the Nagas. You can also try a bit of Naga traditional food and local rice wine with Nga community elders.

>>> Please check Naga New Year Festival details here:

Ananda Pagoda Festival

Ananda Pagoda is the surviving masterpiece of Mon architecture, completed in 1091 built by Bagan's second great king Kyansittha. It has four 9.5 meters teak Buddhas representing four Buddhas of this world-cycle. The festival will start from 6th Jan and end on 21st Jan with the last two days being the most important. You will see popular sales fair around the pagoda with many stalls selling various local products and a caravan of bullock-carts camp under the shady trees. In the evening you will be entertained by beautiful Myanmar traditional performances.

Mahamuni Pagoda Festival

Situated 2 miles south of Mandalay city center is the most significant Mahamuni Pagoda built by King Bodawpaya in 1784. Buddhist monks will continuously chant the scriptures of Buddha starting from 1st till 9th waxing day of Tabodwe. You will see the exciting "htamane" contests (a glutinous rice, a delicacy of the month) being held around the platform of the pagoda. Thousands of people across the country gather to burn incense sticks and candles in symbolic of offering heat to the great image on the full moon day. In the evenings, enjoy the magnificent traditional entertainments being performed and walk along the series of stalls selling interesting local products, a variety of delicious Myanmar snacks!!

(Sea Gipsy) Salon Festival

Salons are the minority groups of Northern branch of Austronesian people living around the Myeik Archipelago of southern Myanmar, the most scenic island groups in South East Asia. The Salons rarely mix with other ethnic groups. The name "sea gypsies" is earned by their simple and peculiar lifestyle – mostly living and fishing while cruising around in handmade boats out in the open sea. They live on land and grow plants only in the rainy season. They have unbeatable skills in diving, swimming, fishing and pearl fishing.

Shwe Myitzu Pagoda Festival

Five-hour drive from Myitkyina to Indawgyi Lake (the largest lake in Myanmar) is where the famous Shwe Myitzu Pagoda located. The most amazing fact is that just before the festival begins, the two sandbanks are washed up by the waves making a path for people to walk from the bank to the pagoda and disappear shortly after the festival!!!

Baw Gyo Pagoda Festival

This famous pagoda is over 700 years old. Local legend has it that Bagan King Narapathisithu was given a piece of celestial wood of which four Buddha images were carved. Annually the four sacred Buddha images are taken out only during the festival for pilgrims to pay homage and offer gold leaves. You will see exciting boat races on Dottawadi river and a lot of trading (jewelry, tea leaves, etc.) going on between Myanmar and Shan minorities living in hilly areas. You can look around many stalls lined up selling local products and traditional performances and gambling games (only allowed during the festival!) taking place.

Shwemawdaw Pagoda Festival

Shwemawdaw Pagoda is the pride of Bago (50 miles north of Yangon). Fifty feet higher than the great Shwedagon Pagoda, making the highest pagoda in Myanmar. History has it that it has been destroyed by earthquakes 32 times since it was first constructed by Mon and Myanmar Kings. Series of temporary bamboo stalls selling various commodities like any other pagoda festival and traditional performances taking place till dawn!

Mahamuni Waso Festival (Chin Lone Competition)
Cane Ball or Chin Lone is a popular traditional sport played all over the country. The most famous Chin Lone competitions are held in the magnificent Mandalay, where cane ball players from all over the country come together for the big event. You can enjoy several Chin Lone performances and exciting tournaments by either team or individual while local music played to entertain the audience.

Boe-Min-Gaung Memorial Day

Also known as Boe Daw Aung Min Gaung was said to have performed many miracles through out the country during his lifetime in public from 1888 to 1952. Some strongly believed that he look after his followers. He passed away in Popa on 2nd waning of Tawthalin in 1952 and thus his followers commemorate this day as Boe-Min-Gaung Memorial Day every year in Popa.

Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival

Try to get up early and get the best spot to observe the traditional boat race in the magnificent Inle Lake (23.42 square miles), one thousand feet above sea level set in the temperate region of Shan State! Inle Lake is the second largest lake after Indawgyi Lake in Kachin state. Watch the procession of leg-rowed boats, line up ceremoniously tugging four Buddha statues which look more like balls of gold covered by many layers of gold leaf, clockwise around the Inle Lake on a royal barge. The most impressive event is the unique leg-rower boat race, where hundreds of crews of Inle Lake rowers (both men and women) compete each other in sprints around the lake while groups of supportive friends play the traditional musical instruments. You will also find yourself among the various ethnic minority groups wearing colorful traditional dresses from the region to celebrate the festival.

>>> Please check Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival details here:

Kyauk Se, Dancing Elephant Competition

Just drive 1 hour from Mandalay and attend the most amazing festival of "Dancing Elephants" in Kyauk Se. It is held to commemorate the construction of the Shew Tha Lyaung, the reclining Buddha Image on the hill by the great Bagan King Anawrahta's order. Actual live elephants were used to carry the offerings to the pagoda in the old days but as time went by, locals' ingenuity and innovativeness has created the dancing dummy elephants! These life-size elephants are made from bamboos, papers, colorful cloths and the body has an open belly for two men to perform inside. On the day before the full moon day of Thadingyut you will see numerous multicolor elephants dancing to traditional music competing for the best place! The best elephant dancers will be judged according to the creative design of the elephants, the dancing techniques and team work by local officials, pagoda trustees and professionals.

Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda Festival

Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda is one of the most interesting pagoda located in the Paung-laung Range of the South-Eastern Yoma. Over 1,100 meters above sea level is a small stupa set on a massive, gold-leafed boulder delicately balanced on the very tip of the cliff at the top of Mt. Kyaikhtiyo. On the full moon day of Thadingyut 9,999 candles are ceremoniously lit by religious Buddhists who come all across the country every year.

Shwezigon Pagoda Festival
One of the major festive attractions in Myanmar is the Shwezigon Pagoda Festival! You will see a line of monks from the nearby monasteries being offered all kinds of food and different articles by religious Buddhists and a usual series of food stalls and performances around the pagoda.

Po Win Taung Cave Festival

Po Win Taung is about 300 meters high and located across Chindwin river near Monywa. You will be amazed to see about 450,000 Buddha images and ancient paintings (some dated back to the same century as the Bagan Dynasty) on natural rock walls inside the cave. The festival is popular for being the one and only market which sells various products such as Myanmar Thanaka, sandalwood, leaves, fruits, roots, thorns and tubera from western wilderness of Chindwin river on a large scale.

Hot Air Balloon Festival

The festival is held in Taungyi, the capital of hilly Shan state to pay homage to "Sulamuni" pagoda, believed to be in the higher level of human existence. Just a week before the fullmoon day of Tazaungmon, colorful balloons (made of paper and bamboo) competitions are held every year. At day-time you will see decorated hot air balloons in different forms and shapes of animals competing for the best design and to be the highest balloon up in the sky! Night-time competitions are much more exciting to see as balloons are more beautifully decorated with small lanterns and fireworks exploding at the bottom of the balloon!

>>> Please check Tazaung Daing festival details here:

Robe weaving Contest

The robe weaving contest is 1 day ahead of Full Moon Day of Tazaungmon in all major pagodas in the cities. Most religious Myanmar women want to join once in their life this event. All participants must be virgins. The first finished robe “Ma Tho Thin Gan” will be offered to the most holy Buddha Image at this pagoda, this ceremony is called “Kathein”. Everybody will finish the robe and all robes will be offered to Buddha statues. Afterwards prizes for the robe weaving winners will be given. 

>>> very nice competition at Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon and in Sagaing and many other places!

Kaunghmudaw Pagoda Festival

Situated about 9 kilometers out of Sagaing, lies the most distinctive temple of the region. Built by King Thalun in 1636, it takes the shape of a perfect hemisphere (legend says it is a copy of the perfect breasts of the King's favorite wife!). Every year Buddhists celebrate the festival by lightening the candles around the temple and you will see endless line of bullock-carts carrying local products to sell during the festival. 

Akha New Year Festival

This colorful event will take place in High School No. 2 compound in Kyaing Tong, Shan State. Different Akha tribes wearing unique traditional costumes from the region will gather to celebrate new year welcoming event and dinner. Traditional dance competitions give opportunity for each dancing team to show off their skills. The competition starts from 7 a.m till midnight!