There are a lot of big festivals around Myanmar. The country is known as a sacred land of Buddhism. Thus, the dominant religion has a great influence on Burmese culture. It is natural that most major Myanmar festivals should be associated with pagodas and worship activities.
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A) Feast of the Ananda Pagoda
Duration: From the end of January, taking place within 15 days after the full moon.
This festival takes place in one of the most famous temples of Bagan which is also one of the richest and most attractive archaeological sites of Asia. This festival is said to date from period of the Kingdom of Bagan. In the past, the inhabitants of the villages around Bagan went into the city in a cart pulled by oxen. Today, some residents still come to the festival in this traditional way. You can enjoy the traditional lifestyle of locals during the festival.
B) Kachin New Year Festival
Time: It usually takes place during the first week of January, lasting only a day
Location: Myitkyina, Kachin State.
The Kachin are one of the major ethnic groups in Myanmar. On the occasion of New Year’s Day, a large number of foreign Kachin come back to meet together and dance in the festivals. The performances of the Manaw dance festival, in particular, are rooted in rituals of worship.
C) Naga New Year Festival
Duration: Usually between 14 and 16 January, lasting 3 days.
Location: Layshi Lahe, Sagaing
The Naga New Year festival is one of the few Myanmar holidays. There are over 49 Naga tribes with their own languages and costumes.
A) Feast of the Shwe Mann Settaw Pagoda
Duration: From the 5th day of February, for 11 days.
Location: Shwe Settaw, State of Magwe, Central Myanmar
There are two Buddhist temples, located on the Mann seafront in this area. On feast days, residents produce a series of bamboo huts for people. Then dive into the warm, dry season of Myanmar.
B) Feast of the Kyaik Khauk Pagoda
Duration: 8 to 15 February.
Location: Thanlyin, near Yangon.
Most of the festival’s activities take place in the evening with theater programs and open-air movies throughout the night.
C) Feast of the Mahamuni Pagoda
Duration: from 14 to 16 February
Location: the former capital of Mandalay.
The image of Mahamuni Buddha is highly revered.
D) Sticky rice cooking festival (Htamane)
Duration: The day of the full moon of February
It is a contest between men and women, to offer glutinous rice to the Buddha on the day of the full moon. Tourists enjoy watching shows, rice-cooking competitions. After the rice offering, the sticky rice will be distributed to everyone, with a prize-giving ceremony for the winner.
A) Festival of God Ko Gyi Kyaw
Duration: March 3 to 8
Location: Phakhan, Yayzagyo.
Tourists will be interested in songs and dances dedicated to God Ko Gyi Kyaw
B) The novitiate ceremony for boys
Duration: usually in the summer, between March and April, and it’s held over two days
In Myanmar culture, the most important responsibility of parents to their son is to imbue the child with the teachings of the Buddha. So their son will be put in a monastery for a short time as a novice to learn more about Buddhism. The ceremony usually takes place when students are absent from school. The ceremony includes a procession around temples. The boys are dressed like princes.
C) Feast of the Nattaung Shwe Pagoda
Duration: March 8 to 15
Location: Shwe Taung, the city of Bago.
It is one of the largest pagoda festivals and attracts many pilgrims from all over the world.
The legendary temple was built during the Pyu Kingdom.
D) Maw Tin Zun Pagoda Festival
Duration: March 8 to 16
Location: Laputta, south-western coast of Myanmar.
The only coastal temple attracts many visitors. They can come to the festival by boat from Yangon to Pathein, a city famous for its traditional crafts.
E) Feast of the Daw Gyi Pagoda Shwe Inn Myitzu
Duration: March 8 to 16
Location: Moenyin, Kachin State, northern Myanmar.
During the festival, groups of pilgrims arrive at this region.
F) Feast of the Bawgyo Pagoda
Duration: March 10 to the day of full moon
Location: Thibaw, southern Shan State.
This festival takes place in the famous historical Shan temple. Not only residents of Shan State but also people from central Myanmar are attending the festival. Coming to the temple during the festival is a good opportunity for visitors to observe the traditions, customs and cultural diversity of the Shan.
G) Pyi-Taw treating Festival
Duration: the Full Moon Day of March
Location: Zalun, Ayeyawady State
H) Min Pindaya Shwe Oo Festival
Duration: from March 11th to the day of full moon
Location: Pindaya, southern Shan State.
During the festival, thousands of people flock to this pagoda, from which you have a spectacular view of the surroundings. People come by car, then wait to get on the traditional tank.
I) yet safe Shwe Pagoda Festival
Duration: March 13th to the day of full moon
Location: Shwetaung, Bago city.
The festival takes place annually. Many Buddhists attend the feast to express respect. You can buy regional specialties from Pyay or traditional handicrafts from Myanmar.
J) Feast of the Kekku Pagoda
Duration: March 14 to 17
Location: Kekku, near Taunggyi, on Shan State.
The area has more than 3,000 temples, located in the hills overlooking the Hopon Valley. The faithful wear their finest outfits to show respect for the Kekku Temple. The most ideal time to attend the festival is the full moon rising, when people come to make ceremony on the Buddha statue. The festival ends when pilgrims make rice offerings for more than 1,000 monks.
K) Feast of the Golden Shwedagon Pagoda
Duration: March 15, or about ten days before the full moon
The Golden Temple is the most famous site of Myanmar. The Festival attracts many pilgrims. Monks sing non-stop throughout the day during the festival. Buddhists go to the temple to celebrate every day of the week.
L) Feast of the Sar Yan Shwe Pagoda
Duration: From the day of full moon, for 9 days
Location: Sar Yan Shwe Village, Patheingyi, the former capital of Mandalay.
Pagoda Sar Tang Yan Shwe is located near Mandalay – Lashio road. Next to the temple is another 17th century temple, the Kalar Gu Po Temple, with many beautiful murals.
M) Feast of the Alaungdaw Khathapa Pagoda
Duration: March Full Moon Day
Location: Alaungdaw Khathapa National Park, Sagaing State.
The temple is located in a national park. A large number of people from neighboring areas attend the festival. Tourists come here not only to attend the festival, but also to admire the beauty of the pagoda and the surrounding nature of one of the most famous tourist destinations in Myanmar.
N) Utram Panguni Festival
Time: March or April, according to the lunar calendar, lasting over 10 days
Location: Swamy Temple, Sri Angata Munieswar Eswari, Pelikha Village, Kyauk Tan District, Yangon.
This is the great Hindu festival in Burma. Ceremonial activities attract many participants. Many people wait for hours. After walking on burning coals, believers will go through a pit full of goat milk, and then apply yellow turmeric to their feet.
A) New Year Water Festival
Duration: From April 13 to 17
The Water Festival (still called Thingyan in Burma) is the biggest and most popular festival in Myanmar. Throwing water to others means washing the body and mind out the evil of the past. On these days, people will go to the pagodas and monasteries, make offerings to the monks, expressing respect for parents, teachers and elders. Every year, a great number of foreign visitors are willing to go to Myanmar for the Thingyan feast with pleasure and excitement.
B) Feast of Shwe Maw Daw Pagoda
Time: From 8 April, for 13 days
Location: The city of Bago.
The most famous festival of temples in Bago
Bodhi Tree Watering Festival
Time: One day in May
Location: in all the temples of Myanmar
This ceremony commemorates the enlightenment of Buddha meditating under the Bodhi tree 2,500 years ago.
Pakokku Thiho Shin Pagoda Festival
Time: June 8, lasting over 15 days
Location: Pakokku, Central Myanmar
Pakokku is the old town on the shore of the Irrawaddy. This is the most important festival of all the festivals in the region.
Waso Full Moon Festival
Duration: 15 days from the full moon of July
Waso is the season of the monsoon. This is also the beginning of Buddhist lent. Monks only leave monasteries at night. However, they will still beg for food during the day
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A) Festival of the God Taung Pyone
Duration: 8 days from August 8th
Location: Taung Pyone village, near Mandalay.
B) Festival of the God of nature Yadana Gu
Duration: From the 1st to the 8th day of the lunar month in August
Location: Amarapura, the city of Mandalay.
This festival is in memory of the mother of the Gods, Taung Pyone. She is the goddess of Mount Popa and the god of women’s protection.
A) Feast of the Manuha Pagoda
Duration: September 14 and 15
Location: Myinkaba, Bagan, Mandalay
On the first day of the festival, the beautiful women of the village will parade with trays of fruit, sweets to offer to the temple. In the afternoon, the young men will parade with the effigies of the heroes, gods, and their animal form. At night, participants dance and sing.
B) Hpaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival
Duration: Beginning of September, extends over 18 days
Location: Inle Lake, South Shan State.
The temple is located in the middle of Lake Lnle. During the festival, thousands of people living around the lake and nearby mountains bring flowers and fruit packaged on a lacquer tray.
A) The feast of light
Time: From October 14th to 16th.
During the holidays, people decorate their home with colorful candles.
B) Feast of the Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda
Duration: 1 day before the full moon day of October, extends over 4 days
Place: the citadel of Mandalay.
C) Elephant Dance Festival
Duration: October 14th and 15th.
Location: Kyaukse, about 40 km southeast of Mandalay.
D) Feast of the Kaunghmudaw Pagoda
Duration: Around the days of the full moon of October, extends over 5 days
Location: Sagaing State.
E) The Shwe Kyin Flower Festival
Duration: The day after the full moon day of October
Location: Kyin Shwe River, Shwe Kyin District, Bago Region
A) Hot-air balloon festival
Duration: 3 days from the full moon of November
Location: Taunggyi, Shan State South.
One of the most spectacular festivals with hot-air balloon festival, which takes place every year in Taunggyi in November, is often called Taunggyi Tazaungdaing festival. The competition takes place both day and night. Colored balloons are released in the night sky. The common pattern is a decor of elephants, cows, horses, buffaloes, birds, parrots, pigs, fish, birds, owls (symbol of luck).
B) Tazaungmone festival of full moon
Time: the Full Moon Day of November
C) Night weaving competition
Weather: The night before the full moon of November
Location: Golden Pagoda Yangon, and other temples throughout the country.
D) Feast of the Shwezigone Pagoda
Time: Starting from the full moon of November, extends over 15 days
Location: Nyaung U, near Bagan, Mandalay.
On the day of full moon, ceremonies take place with food offerings to thousands of monks and novices. During the festival, there is also a great market day.
E) Feast of the HPO
Time: November 14 and 15
Location: Monywa, Sagaing State.
F) Feast of the Shwesandaw Pagoda (Pyay)
Time: the Full Moon Day of November
Location: Pyay, Bago Region.
Shwesandaw Temple is an important pilgrimage site and one of the largest pagoda festivals in Myanmar, attracting crowds of pilgrims throughout the country.
A) Feast of the Mae Lamu Pagoda
Duration: From 8 December, extends over 8 days
Location: North Okkalapa, Yangon
It’s one of the famous temple festivals in Yangon. During the festival, the monks pray 24 hours a day.
B) Mont Popa Festival
Duration: 6 days, from the full moon day of December
Location: Mount Popa, near Bagan.
C) Festival of the “Golden Stone” with 9000 lights
Duration: night of December 31st very year.
Location: Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda, State Mon.
On the night of the festival, Buddhists light 9000 lamps to welcome the New Year and to thank Buddha in the Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda.
Myanmar’s festivals testify to the richness and beauty of Burmese culture. Under the influence of the dominant religion, all major festivals are considered as opportunities for Burmese people to express their love and respect to the Buddha and other gods. These great Burmese festivals attract a large number of tourists each year. It is only by coming to Myanmar that you will be able to understand why they are Burmese national pride.