Thet Htoo Lwin
Festival means a gathering of people to celebrate honoring a special place or event. It can also refer to a particular day or group of days when people have holidays so they can celebrate. Festivals may be religious festivals and may also be events which feature music, dancing, poetry, movies and other cultural and social customs. As many festivals are celebrated around the globe with different kinds and purposes, some popular festivals concerning with religion are celebrated in Myanmar known as “The Golden Land”.
The most famous traditional festivals in Myanmar
Among some famous festivals that celebrate in Tagu (April), Kason (May), Warso(July) and Thadingyut(October) are the most popular and all Buddhists in Myanmar always take part in these festivals. The day in mid-April is the beginning of the Burmese new year and people usually celebrate Gadawt (paying respects to elders), water games, observation of the Buddhist Sebbath (Uposatha). People take merits by the watering of Bo tree at the full moon of Kason(May) that is the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama. Full moon of warso known as Robe offering Festival(Dhammasekya Day) is the beginning of Buddhist lent and anniversary of Buddha’s first sermon on the Four Noble Truths and Burmese people celebrate by donation of monks robes and shinbyu ceremonies(making younger boys as monks to earn merit for their families).Festival of Lights at the full moon of Thadingyut is the end of Buddhist lent and mostly people take merit by exchanging gifts, gadawt (paying respects to elders),lighting of candles and visiting pagodas & this festival is more prominent and popular than other festivals in Myanmar.
Background religious history of Thadingyut Festival
These are some religious and historical facts concerning the Buddha and the Thadingyut Festival. In history, the Buddha climbed up to Tavatimsa, the Holy Abode and taught Abhidhamma discourses to celestial beings there for three months. His teaching and preaching were not only for them but for his mother who had been reborn in Tavatimsa as a god named Santusita for thanking. After that, on the full moon day of Thadingyut, the Buddha and his procession climbed down from Tavatima to a realm where human beings lived by using stairways made of gold, silver and rubies created by Sakka, King of the holy abode. In that time, people in the world light candles to guide and welcome them back & it turned into a traditional festival over a number of years.
Delighting in Lighting Festival (Thadingyut)
Nowadays, mostly Buddhism usually light candles during the three days of Thadingyut, that is the seven month of Burmese calendar. The three festival days are the day before full moon, full moon day and the day after full moon. Candles and many kinds of electric lights can be seen in pagodas and in front of every house. Children play with paper lanterns on the street and groups of young people set off a few fireworks and launch small hot-air balloons. In small towns and villages, Meekyarhlae festivals that can’t be seen in cities are celebrated. This festival includes children holding paper lanterns in procession and dragons which decorated with electric lights is performed by young people with traditional Thadingyut songs. Traditional food stuff and games, that people of any age can take part like shooting rubber band for suitable prizes, riding on swift rotating on pendulum boat, etc can be seen near pagodas.
Traditionalism of Myanmar people
As mostly Buddhists get many joyful funs, they usually energetically take part in religious works. Donating foods and juices to friends, family, strangers alike and people who come pagodas to take good deeds and merits are performed everywhere. People Gadawt (more than paying respects or doing obeisance) their parents, teachers and elderly persons and get blessings and forgiveness from them. Some people usually take merits by learning Abhidhamma discourses and by helping necessary works in monastery.During this month, the sky is clear without any cloud as in the Myanmar traditional proverb. So many kinds of hot-air balloons and delightful fire that splutters from fireworks, can be clearly seen in the sky. In fact,the peaceful weather and religion, music concepts and weddings are celebrated as soon as Thadingyut Festival is over. Wedding is one of the blessings and so there are many peaceful events in this month. All I want to say is that I promise you will get many emotional moments and find delightful things which you can’t find in other country if you come to Myanmar in Thadingyut Festival.