Manaw is the colorful festival of the Kachin people who live in northern Myanmar. Traditional Manaw
was a Nat Festival, honoring guardian spirits, and the Padaing
Nat is believed to be the protector and benefactor of the
Kachin. There are many versions of Manaw: a version to celebrate
the New Year, other versions to celebrate victory in battle,
house-warmings, and so on. In earlier times it was a festival
for the Duwars, or tribal chieftains, but now it is the victory
festival for all of Kachin State. A big Manaw Festival is
usually held on Kachin State Day, 10 January, in the state
capital, Myitkyina, to usher in the New Year and to celebrate
prosperity and abundance. Traditional Manaw poles, decorated
with Kachin motifs, and are placed in the center of the Manaw
grounds. A line of elaborately dressed dancers, led by shamans,
approach the Manaw poles to the sound of brass gongs. As is
usual for all mountain people, the dance is communal and
everybody lines up behind the leaders. The dance is a show of
gratitude to their ancestral spirits and their wish for brighter
future. Although most Kachin are now Christians, they are still
proud of their ancestral traditions.
Inn Daw Gyi
Inndawgyi, Myanmar's biggest natural lake is situated in the
Moegaung area in the Myitkyina district of the Kachin State. The
lake is 16 miles long (north-south) and 7 miles wide (east-west)
with a total lake area of is 80 sq miles. Every year in March,
the festival of the Shwe- Myintzu Pagoda, built during the
Konebaung era, is held from the 8th waxing day to the 1st waning
day of Tagaung.
Balloon and Fireworks Festival
The most significant festival in Taung Gyi is the Tazaungdine
Lighting Festival held in November, during this festival,
hot-air balloon competitions are held. The festival features a
colorful display of decorated hot-air balloons in different
sizes and in the shapes of animals including elephants, pigs,
cattle, horses, the mythical Hintha bird, and hens. The night
sky lights up with colorful fireworks and lights from the
multicolored hot-air balloons. The natural beauty of Taung Gyi
and its environs can be viewed form Mya Sein Taung zedi.
Fire Strick Festival
This festival is held in Kalaw in November. Long poles
stuffed with fire works are ceremoniously carried to a pagoda on
the outskirts of the town. They are planted near the pagoda and
are burned all night.
Bawgyo is near the town of Thipaw in Nothern Shan State. The
festival is held around the full moon day of Tagaung (March).
The 700 year old pagoda is the site of festivities for a week
when pilgrims from all over Shan State arrive to worship the
four holy images of the Buddha. The images are locked in a
reliquary for most of the year, but during the festival days,
the images are taken out for display, for worship and for
gilding with gold foils.
Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival
Inlay Lake is the most famous scenic lake in Shan State. The
picturesque lake is 22.4 km long and 10.2 km wide, and is about
900 m above sea level. It is famous for its unique leg-rowers,
floating villages and colorful makers.
Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda in the lake is very famous and its houses
five small Buddha images. The pagoda festival is held every year
in the month of Thindingyut (October) with pageantry. Four of
the five Buddha images are placed on a decorated royal barge and
rowed around the lake, stopping at villages for people to pay
homage. There are fun fairs, music, dances and boat races, and
it is the biggest annual occasion in the Lake Inlay district.
Kakku Pagoda Festival
Kakku Pagoda is in the territory of the Pa O people in Taung
Gyi Township. There are about 2000 stupas packed closely
together in ranks, covering an area perhaps a square kilometer.
Legend says that Alaung Sithu, the 12th century king of Bagan,
built the first stupas. The pagoda festival is held in Tagaung.
On the full moon day, alms offering are carried out by the Pa- O
people dressed in their traditional black outfits. There also is
the festival market.
Shan State Day
Shan State is situated in the eastern part of the country and
has a total area of 61,091 sq miles which is a quarter of the
total area of Myanmar. The State Day ceremonies are held in
Taunggyi, Kyaing Tong, Lashio and many towns of the Shan State
and other ethnic minorities are performed. Shans celebrate the
Feast of Harvest on the 3rd of February, one day before the Shan
Pindaya Cave Festival
Pindaya well known for its lime stone caves is about 45 km
from Kalaw. The cave is set deep in the hillsides, and at the
entrance there is the 15 meter high Shwe Oo Min or Golden Cave
pagoda. The tazaung or prayer hall was built by the famous
hermit U Khati who also built many of the religious edifices on
Mandalay Hill. The entire length of the cave is 490 feet and
there are about 8,000 Buddha images made from various materials
like teak, marble, alabaster, brick, cement and lacquer. All the
images are enshrined in the nooks and corners of the winding
caves. There are also numerous interesting stalactites and
stalagmites in these stone caves. A three day pagoda festival is
held in Tagaung (March). The native tribes such as Danu, Pa O,
Taung Yoe and Palaung make offerings on the full moon day.
Festivities include performances by roaming artists and there is
a busy market.
Kayin State Day
Kayin State comprises 7 townships and has a total area of
11,731 sq miles, ie, 4.9% of the Union of Myanmar. November 7 is
the Kayin State Day, which is celebrated in Pa- an, the state
Kayin New Year
The Kayin New Year falls on the 1st Waxing Day of Pyatho
(usually in December, but some times in January). It is
celebrated in Kayin State, Kayin quarters in Yangon and in other
cities where Kayin dominate. The celebrations include folk
dances, traditional boxing and fun fairs.
Chin National Day
This one day festival is held in Haka (Nothern Chin State)
and in Mindat (southern Chin State) on the 20th February. It is
a popular holiday for the Chin, one of the major ethnic groups
in Myanmar. Different Chin groups at both venues perform folk
The Naga tribes live in the mountains, valleys and plains of
one of the most remote regions on earth, in the northwest corner
of Myanmar close to India. They live on both sides of the
border. Their New Year Celebration is from the 14th to 15th
January, and held in one of the towns in Sagaing Division,
either Layshi or Khamti. Tribes from all of Nagaland, from both
the Indian side and the Myanmar spots. The different Naga
tribes, once fierce warriors, gather in their bright and exotic
dresses and celebrate with endued drinking of rice wine, dancing
and feasting on wild boar meat.
Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda Festival
Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda rests on top of a precariously balanced
boulder overhanging a cliff on top of a ridge more than 3000
feet above sea level. The stupa itself is about 20 feet tall,
resting on top of a 50 foot boulder balanced on the rocky cliff.
The boulder, stupa and part of the cliff are gilded with gold
leaf applied over the centuries by faithful pilgrims. There are
many legends about the Pagoda and the "Nats" and "spirits".
Access is only by foot, either a steep 45-minutes climb from the
new car park or else a more gradual 7 miles walk taking four
hours from the base camp of Kin mum, east of Kyaikhtiyo, about
160km from Yangon. The pagoda festival is held from Dabodwe to
Mandalay the last capital of the Myanmar Kings is located in
central Myanmar, 668 km north of Yangon. Alsp known as Yadanabon
- nepyidaw (Gem City) it was built in 1857 by King Mindon, the
father of the last king Thibaw. Mandalay is the largest city
boasting a rich cultural heritage, and it is also a commercial
center with rail, road, river and air links to all parts of the
Mahamuni Pagoda Festival
King Bodawphaya built this pagoda in 1784 to house the
Mahamuni Buddha Image, brought from Rakhine State. The image
originally was of alloy but now it is heavily gilded with fine
foils of gold, and is estimated to be over one ton in weight.
Being the most revered Pagoda in Mandalay, the early morning
ritual of washing the face of the Buddha's image draws a daily
crowd of devotees. The Pagoda Festival is held in the month of
Dabodwe. In the first ceremony from the 1st Waxing Day to the
9th Waxing Day of Dabodwe (February), a number of monks chant
Buddhist scriptures nonstop. On the 8th Waxing Day, there are
communal offering of dry rations and other necessities to the
monks from nearby monasteries. The evening entertainment
includes zats (a variety of dances, songs, short & long plays),
anyeints (comedic dances), open-air movies, and many stalls
selling various traditional snacks and other utilities.
Taung Pyone Festival
This is the most famous Nat Festival (appeasing of spirits)
in Upper Myanmar. It is at Taung Pyone village, in Madaya
Township, one hour drive from Mandalay. The festival is held in
August, around the full moon day of Wahgaung, and lasts five
days, with special programs each day.
This is another Traditional Nat Festival held in also in
August, around the no moon day of Wahguang. The festival is on
the Mandalay- Sagaing road in Amarapura Township, half an hour
drive from Mandalay.
Kyauk - Taw - Gyi Pagoda Festival
King Mindon built Kyaukrawgyi pagoda (the Pagoda of the great
Marble Image) in 1865. The huge Buddha image was cast out of a
single alabaster boulder and brought from the Sagaing hills,
about 50 miles from Mandalay. Ten thousands laborers are said to
have been employed for 13 days to transport the boulder along a
specially dug canal o the site of the pagoda at the foot of
Mandalay Hill. The festival is from 8th waxing day to the full
moon day of Thindingyut (October). The event is similar to other
Shin Mar Le Pagoda Festival
The Pagoda festival is celebrated during the Tazaungdine
festival. People throw lotus flowers to the top of the stupa,
located at the north entrance of the Mahamuni Pagoda, as homage
to the Lord Buddha.
It is a traditional "Nat" festival from 30th July to 5th
August, similar to other "Nat" festivals, where people from
surrounding areas came for the festival.
The uncompleted mammoth pagoda was built by King Bodawphaya
(1781 - 1819 A.D) in Mingun, Sagaing area. It was built on 5th
waxing day of Tabodwe of Myanmar Era, but it was left
uncompleted due to a prophesy that once the pagoda is completed
the country will break up. Had it been completed, it would be a
height of some 500 feet and would have been a wonder. It was
stopped at 162 ft (up to the first terrace) and its girth is
Hta Pwe or Mogok Gem Market
Mogok is famous for its rubies and, hence, is called
ruby-land. It is the center for mining and sale of quality
rubies and other precious stones. During the days of the
supervision of the appraisers in the royal city. Nowadays
private gem traders open sale shops in Mogok, and there are also
venues called "Hta Pwe" in reference to keeping gems in brass
trays known as "Hta". The gem trading is carried out during the
time where there is enough light; trading is done twice a day,
in the morning and in the afternoon. One of the sweet customs of
Mogok is that nobody sells fake gems; when one dealer is
bargaining the price no other person would barged in to out bid
Nay Win Taung Festival
A traditional Shan Pagoda Festival held in the Nothern part
of Pyin Oo Lwin, about an hour's drive from the centre of the
town, on and around the full moon day of Tagaung. It is similar
to other traditional festivals.
Kyaung Hmu Daw Pagoda Festival
This huge pagoda is 10 km beyond the town of Sagaing, south west
of Mandalay, across the Ayeyarwaddy River. The enormous dome
rises 46 meters in the shape of a perfect hemisphere and was
modeled after the Mahomet in Sri Lanka. Also known as
Rajamanisula, the pagoda was built to commemorate Inwa's
establishment as the royal capital of Myanmar. The pagoda
festival is held around the full moon day of Tazaungdine. The
most interesting aspect of the festival is the caravan of
bullock carts in the pagoda compound, some carrying village
products like hand-woven cotton cloths and rattan mats for sale
at the festival.
Thanbodde Pagoda Festival (Monywa)
Monywa, the commercial center of the Chindwin Valley, is about
136 km northwest of Mandalay. A very unusual Buddhist temple
complex, Thanboddhay, is situated about 20 kilometers from the
town. The pagoda has a unique shape. Receding terraces top the
square temple, with a myriad of small stupas surrounding the
central golden chedi. The pagoda festival is held around the
full moon day of Tazaungmone (November).
Thihoshin Pagoda Festival (Pakokku)
This pagoda festival is held for more than one month from the
second week of June to the third of July (Nayone to Waso).
Shinbinsagyo Pagoda Festival (Salay)
Sale is a small town about 15 km south of Bagan, on the
Ayeyarwaddy River. The Shinbinsagyo Pagoda festival is held
around the full moon day of Waso (July).
Myathalun Pagoda Festival
The Magway Myathalun Pagoda is believed to have been built by
Thubawga the philanthropist in the Maha Sakrit era. The original
height was 52ft, but it was extended to 82ft by King Saw Lu of
Bagan, enshrining 120 relics and seven gold Buddha images. When
it was damaged by earthquake in Kawza Sakarit 1290, it was
rebuilt to a height of 99ft. King Mindon gilded the pagoda in
1214 in the Myanmar calendar. The pagoda festival is held around
the full moon day of Thindingyut for two weeks.
Kyaungdawyar Fish Feeding Ceremony
The Kyaungdawyar pagoda is in Pwint Phyu, and the festival is
lengthy, held from mid July to the second week of October. It is
a famous festival known as Fish Feeding Festival. People believe
that hundreds of big fish, which can only be seen in July, came
specially to pay homage to the pagoda.
Maw Tin Soon Pagoda Festival
This pagoda is situated at Maw Tin Zun, Ngaputaw Township in
the Pathein District of the Ayeyarwaddy Division. Maw Tin Zun is
also called Nagayit Mountain, Tharana Mountain or Neibban
Mountain. The pagoda is believed to have been built in Sakarit
103 by Zeyathena, the king of dragons, enshrining two hair
relics of Buddha obtained from the two brothers Tapusa and
Balika. It was named Maha Makuta Yanthi Buddhist Synod, and
later, in Sakarit 457, King Alaung Sithu of Bagan renovated the
pagoda and renamed it Phaung-daw-Oo Pagoda. The Pagoda festival
is held in Tagaung (March) for 14 days around the full moon day.
People from all over Myanmar country come to the festival.
Zalun Pyitawpyan Image Festival
In Maha Sakarit 113 the King and lay disciples of Rakhine
cast the Maha Myatmuni Buddha Image in bronze and three more
images were cast our of the surplus bronze. The fourth statue
came to be known as the Man Aung Myin Statue. This statue was
conveyed to Amarapura by the Crown Prince, son of King
Bodawphaya, in Sakarit 1146. The image was housed in the front
part of the royal palace and was called Nan-Oo-Phaya.
In Sakarit 1214 the statue was conveyed to Zalun by the Zalun
headman U Shwe Pwint. The colonialists who had occupied lower
Myanmar took the Image to England with the intention of using
the bronze in their mint. According to legend they could neither
melt it nor break it with hammers, and the Queen was said to
have suffered nagging headaches and nightmares. She ordered that
the statue be returned to the place from where it was taken. But
because the British could not remember the original site from
where it was taken, they left it on a sandbank near Hintha, and
the people called it Padawmu Phaya - the image found on the
sandbank. A tug- of -war over ownership took place between the
citizens of Zalun and Hintha, and Zalun emerged as the winners.
The image has been kept in Zalun ever since. In memory of its
having been taken abroad and having been brought back, it became
famous as the Man Aung Myin Pyitawpyan Image (the statue that
was returned from abroad). This pagoda festival is held in
Tagaung (March) for ten days around the full moon day.
Shwekyin Light Floating Festival
Shwekyin a town in the Bago Division on the back of Sittuong
River celebrates the light festival on the full moon day of
Thindingyut (October). Thousands of lighted candles on
terracotta bowls are floated en masse down the river.
Kyaik Khauk Pagoda Festival
Kyaik Khauk Pagoda is built on a hill on the road to the town of
Kyauktan in Thanlwin, about a half an hour drive across the
river from Yangon. It is believed that Shin Khawlaka and King
Sula Thirimar Thawka of Thaton built the pagoda to enshrine hair
relics of the Buddha donated by King Asoka of India in the 124
Buddhist Era. The pagoda festival is held around the full moon
day of Dabodwe (February). Evening entertainment includes Zats,
Anyeints, and stage shows and movies are shown in the open air.
28 Buddha’s Festival
It is common belief that 28 Buddha’s, including the last Gotama
Buddha came into existence and passed onto Nibbana. In the fair
weather season, people hold the 28 Buddha’s Festival in various
townships around Yangon and in most other parts of Myanmar,
according to their own calendars. The images of the Buddha’s are
conveyed in a grand procession around the town for people to pay
obeisance, accompanied by music and dances.
Thanakha Grinding Event
This is celebrated in Sittwe, the capital of the Rakhine State,
on April 12 every year, the eve of Water Festival. In the early
hours of the night young women damsels grind the bark and roots
of Thanakha, a scented wood, on rounded stone slabs to make a
fine cream. Young men support the event with music and dance.
Image Bathing Event
This ceremony is held on April 13 to the Buddha images with the
aromatic thanakha cream made earlier by the women.
Shit Thaung Pagoda Festival
This 8 day festival is held at the pagoda's precincts in Mrauk
Oo, Rakhine State, around the full moon day of Kasone (May). The
main pagoda was built in five tiers, surrounding by a variety of
stone pagodas. This pagoda festival is similar to other pagoda
festivals, but it also includes exciting traditional wrestling.
Boat races and water splashing in the Mrauk Oo canal also occur
on the full moon day.
The Salone are people living on archipelago in Myeik area. The
Salone Traditional Festival (Sea Gypsies Festival) will be held
from 14th to 16th February 2004 at Manjungalet Village on Boncho
Island with the aim of developing and promoting Myeik
archipelago as a tourist destination and attraction as unspoiled
natural beauty of Myanmar for international market.