Myanmar holidays, dates and detailed descriptions

Myanmar Holidays

Myanmar is an exotic and unadvertised Asian kingdom that gave the world Buddhism.

Buddhism calls for tolerance and a calm attitude to views that do not coincide with your own. That is why Christianity, predominantly of the Catholic persuasion, has also spread in Myanmar. In this regard, among the official holidays are Christmas on December 25 (the state holiday) and Diwali.

It is not customary to celebrate New Year’s Eve according to the Gregorian calendar, but New Year is celebrated twice. One is in April. The second – in December, the so-called Karen New Year (the Karens – a small nation, lives in Myanmar and Thailand).

Burmese New Year

New Year in Burma is celebrated in April. There is no exact date, the event is related to the lunar calendar (the date floats). The date is calculated separately for each year. New Year falls around mid-April.

Instead of the traditional Santa Claus or Santa Claus, the Burmese focus on the rain gods. They are believed to dwell on distant stars and sometimes forget about their charges. Therefore, tired of the divine neglect, the inhabitants under try everything to attract their attention to themselves.

They arrange a ceremonial tug of war. House against house, street against street. It is believed that the gods are bound to be curious to see what it is that mortals are up to, they will come to see and remember the rain… The male population participates, and the task of women and children is to attract the divine attention with a loud noise.

New Year’s Eve preparations are interesting. We are talking about the Tinjan Water Festival. It is believed that the ritual dousing washes away all old sins. As a result, young people wear provocative outfits, allow themselves loud music and public appearance in public on the arm with a lover or beloved (such behavior is considered a real challenge to society).

The old and unofficial capital of Myanmar, Yangon, turns into a place where a big water fight takes place. Water pistols, machine guns, and whoever waters others directly with buckets from their windows and given the forty-degree heat, it’s a great feast.

Tabaung is the last month before the New Year. This time is characterized by a leisurely pace for the country. Peasants (the bulk of the population) have nothing to do during this time and there is free time for personal matters, weddings are played. And there is a public holiday in this month.

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The official name is “Tabaung’s Full Moon,” or the Feast of the Sand Pagodas. During this time, when it hasn’t rained in six months, rivers have time to become noticeably shallow and the beds are exposed. Children have access to huge natural sandpits. The most popular sand building becomes something resembling a pagoda. As a result, small ornaments like this grow all over the country, which are washed away with the onset of the rainy season.

On this day, a huge five-tiered pagoda, symbolizing the five levels of Meru, is erected of pure white sand. Each level is specially reinforced with bamboo and covered with mats and decorated with flowers and bells. Buddhists then circumambulate the pagodas three times to honor the three basic tenets of Buddhism. Next, donations are made to the monks, and the people’s merrymaking begins.

It is held in November, falls in the 8th month of the classical Burmese calendar, and marks the celebration of the end of the rainy season, with which quite a lot is associated.

In addition, all residents try to light at least one lantern. It is believed that it is better to make one with your own hands, then the heat of this light will warm you up and protect you from all kinds of adversity throughout the year.

The holiday is the official state holiday and is associated with Buddhism. At this time it is customary to water the sacred trees. Also, thousands of beauties in different parts of the country go to the base of the pagoda, carrying pots of water and lighted oil incense or candles. In doing so, they symbolize the process of renewal and purification (water) and enlightenment (fire), the beginning of a new path in the life of the Buddha.

The holiday has more of a ritual significance, and on this day it is customary to think about oneself and one’s life path. Many tend to spend time in prayer and meditation.

This holiday falls at the beginning of November, is another festival of light. Towns and villages are decorated with burning lanterns, and 9,999 candles are lit in central squares for good luck. If you want to celebrate this holiday, you should definitely try the special kidney salad.

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Its main advantage is not the taste, but the magical energy with which it is charged. If you eat it, the next year will be successful, luck will accompany various undertakings.

The second name is the day of the nation. State holiday, usually falls on the 10th day after the previous celebration.

On this day, student unrest and protests against British rule began. It is believed that Myanmar began to gain independence then.

For a long time local residents celebrated this day almost clandestinely, because the ban on mass gatherings prevented them from doing it openly. But then the government decided to cooperate and made the holiday official.

Myanmar’s major holidays and festivals

The Burmese people are moving toward a calendar even more ancient than that of the West. Individual full moons in the Buddhist lunar calendar mark special feast days across the country, gathering thousands of people at their local temples to eat, dance, and pray. If you’re planning your itinerary in Myanmar, you should time your trip according to these very important festivals – that way you’ll get a lot more out of your Myanmar tour!

January: Temple Festival in Anand, Bagan

On the day of the full moon of the Buddhist month of Pyatho , the temple town of Bagan celebrates the local Ananda Temple Festival Day with a fairgrounds in the vast temple grounds, attracting pilgrims from all over, many traveling by traditional cart to get there.(The first tourists in Bagan took carts to get around the temples in the area, and it remains a popular transportation option for Bagan even today.)

Buddhist monks spend three consecutive days repeating the scriptures until the day of the full moon itself. When Python’s full moon day arrives in the morning, thousands of pilgrims present fill the bowls for the monks’ offerings.

When is the Temple of Ananda festival ? According to the Gregorian calendar, the festival takes place on the following dates:

2019: January 20, 2020: January 9, 2021: January 27, 2022: January 16

January / February: Mahamuni Pagoda Festival, Mandalay

Locals in Mandalay celebrate Thabodwe Full Moon Eve by converging on the Mahamuni Pagoda in Mandalay , home to a massive gold-encrusted statue of the Buddha. The more devout will stay for two days to hear a Buddhist philosophical text read by monks.

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You don’t need to listen to the religious text in a foreign language to enjoy the festival: the area outside the temple takes on a festival atmosphere, with pavilions featuring traditional dances, musical performances and local theater groups.

On the eve of the full moon, Tabodwa also celebrates the extensive culture of rice cultivation in Myanmar, celebrated during the festival for a dish of sticky rice known as Htamane (outside Mandalay this occasion is actually known as the Htamane Festival ). On this occasion, villages everywhere prepare huge batches of this popular sweet snack made from sticky rice combined with coconut shavings, roasted peanuts, fritters, and roasted ginger.

Other important temple festivals on this date : On Pyay eve of the full moon, Tabodwe signals the start of the Nyan Yoe bonfire ceremony centered around the Shwezando Pagoda (not to be confused with the Bagan sunset viewing pagoda).

When is the Mahamuni Pagoda Festival ? According to the Gregorian calendar, the festival takes place on the following dates:

2019: February 19, 2020: February 8, 2021: February 26, 2022: February 15

April: Thingyan, Burmese water festival

The Buddhist New Year’s festivals, held simultaneously in Thailand (Songkran), Cambodia (Chaul Chnam Tmei), and Laos (Boon Pi Mai), are also significant celebrations in Myanmar.

As in its other Buddhist countries, Myanmar celebrates Thingyan with plenty of water: walkers throw buckets of water at passersby in the open air, who enthusiastically welcome the water fight once a year. The water symbolizes purity in local knowledge, and the pouring water represents the cleansing of the soul from the evils and imperfections of the past year.

In Myanmar’s capital, Yangon, the townspeople have taken the Thingyan festival to an artistic form: around Lake Kandawyi, revelers draw water from the lake to power water spraying stations called man-dat; hoarse party music pulses from speakers on man-dat as locals who maintain the stations spray water on everyone within reach.

When Thingyan. Unlike other Myanmar festivals, Thingyan takes place during a predictable set of dates relative to the Gregorian calendar. Each year Thingyan takes place from April 14-16 .

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September/October: Hpaung Daw U Festival, Inle Lake

During the month of Thadingyut, four of the five Buddha images residing in the Hpaung Daw U pagoda represent a large circle of Inle Lake villages, taking eighteen days to complete.

The four Buddha images, loaded onto a gold barge built especially for the occasion, make the slow journey, towed by boats paddled by famous Inle Lake rowers. The barge makes a clockwise trip around the lake, with four Buddha images spent each night at a different city monastery.

The festival reaches its peak when the barge reaches the town of Nyaungshwe, where pilgrims from all over Shan State converge to honor the statues.

But why does Shan accept only four images of Buddha? The people of Inle fear a repeat of the previous incident. According to legend, the last time the Inle people took all five images on board, a storm capsized the barge, sending all the images to the bottom of the lake. Four were found, but they abandoned the fifth after a long search. When they returned to the pagoda, they found the fifth image in its former location – wet, but intact!

When is the Hpaung Daw U Festival? The Hpaung Daw U Festival is a movable festival belonging to the Gregorian calendar. According to the Burmese lunar calendar, the festival begins on the first day of Tadingyut on the Sunday Moon and ends 18 days later, a few days after the next full moon. According to the Gregorian calendar, the festival takes place on the following dates:

2018: Oct. 10-27, 2019: Sept. 29-Oct. 16, 2020: Oct. 17-Nov. 3, 2021: Oct. 6-23, 2022: Sept. 25-Oct. 12

October: Dancing Elephant Festival, Kyaukse

The full moon of Thadingyut is the month when Buddhists believe that the Buddha descended back to earth after three months of preaching in the spiritual realm above. While the rest of Myanmar celebrates this by lighting the Buddha’s way home, the town of Kyaukse near Mandalay does it a little differently: at the Dancing Elephant Festival, where not real elephants live, but pairs of dancers in giant elephant costumes.

The intricately designed elephant costumes are made of paper, bamboo, sequins, satin and glass. The costumed dancers move to the beat of the drums, circling the Shwe Ta Laung Pagoda a total of three times. Dancers are awarded prizes for their dancing skills and the beauty of their costumes; the rest of the community celebrates with feasts and entertainment throughout the temple grounds.

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When is the Dancing Elephant Festival ? In the Gregorian calendar, the Dancing Elephant Festival takes place on the following days:

2018: October 24, 2019: October 13, 2020: October 31, 2021: October 20, 2022: October 9

November: Weaving competitions in Kahtayn, Yangon

On the day of the full moon Tazaungmon (the eighth month of the Buddhist calendar), Myanmar marks the end of the rainy season with festivities throughout the country. It is the traditional end of Buddhist fasting, known as Kahtein in the local language, when monks are traditionally presented with new robes of the community they serve.

The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon celebrates Kahtein in a garment weaving contest, where teams of weavers work on traditional looms from the night before the full moon to the night of the full moon itself. This is repeated throughout the country when devotees visit the main temples to present new garments to their local monks.

Other important temple festivals on this date : In Bagan, the obligatory Shwezigon temple holds its temple festival around the full moon Tazaungmon.

When is Kahtein ? In the Gregorian calendar, Kahtein takes place on the following dates:

2018: November 21-22, 2019: November 10-11, 2020: November 28-29, 2021: November 17-18, 2022: November 6-7

November: Balloon Festival, Taunggyi

In Taunggyi , Shan State, about 160 miles southeast of Mandalay, locals celebrate the end of the Buddhist fasting Balloon Festival. The festival grounds outside Taunggyi turn into a tourist hotspot – literally – at 8 p.m., when organizers launch large, brightly decorated fireballs made of papier-mâché.

There’s no way to see it: balloons rise 60 feet into the air, the fireworks on the balloons explode, sending streaks and sparks across the sky to the delight of spectators on the ground!

When is the Balloon Festival ? In the Gregorian calendar, the Balloon Festival takes place on the following days:

2018: November 17-22, 2019: November 5-11, 2020: November 23-29, 2021: November 12-18, 2022: November 1-7

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