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 12 Monthly Myanmar Festivals

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PostSubject: 12 Monthly Myanmar Festivals   Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:44 pm

Tankhu (Tagu)
April
Myanmar New Year
-A harmonious blend of folklore and Buddhism



The Myanmar New Year falls on the second week of April. It usually starts from the 13th of April as it is according to the Myanmar calendar. The New Year is ushered in by four days of Water Throwing Festival. This festival is called ‘Thingyan’ which means ‘Change’. During that festival, Myanmar people throw water over friends, and even strangers on the streets. Even foreigners and all other believers can participate in this merriest festival of Myanmar. Decorated stages (Mandats), floats, music, songs, and dances are the symbols of Thingyan. Everyone can see those pleasant sights and scenes or he may opt for religious meritorious acts or just enjoy rest and recreation in festive atmosphere.

Pouring water in 'New Year' is believed to cleanse the body and mind of evils of the year that was left behind. People, especially youths, throw sprinkling scented water over dear friends. All the playing and jesting go with the spirit of the surrounding climate. It is not all fun and amusement. Some elderly and pious keep Sabbath and perform a lot of meritorious deeds. They go to pagodas and monasteries and offer food to monks and nuns. Moreover, a fond action we can watch during Thingyan days is fish and cattle being released into the rivers.

According to folklore, Tha-Gyar-Min, the king of celestials, will pay a visit to the human abode for four days. As some scholars say, Tha-Gyar-Min is a deity borrowed from Hindu mythology. Then, who exactly is that Tha-Gyar-Min? He may be a legendary person but, he is very much within the domain of Buddhist teaching and way of surviving. He is not an immortal like those Greek gods. Tha-Gyar-Min, like all other celestials, has a very long life-span, thousands of times longer than that of human life. Tha-Gyar-Min is just a being who in his previous existence has done good deeds. As a sequence, it causes him to be reborn in that awesome state – a life of bliss and sensual pleasure.

During Thingyan days, Tha-Gyar-Min comes to our world and check on the conduct of human morals. He always brings two books – one covered with ‘dog-skin’ and the other with ‘gold’. He records the names of those people who have committed sins into the ‘dog-skinned’ book whilst enters those do-gooders’ names in the book of gold.

So, it is time to keep fasting, give alms to the poor and do good deeds. As a lovely tradition of Myanmar, Myanmar youths – both girls and boys – give the older folks personal service, like washing and shampooing their hair. There are goodwill and loving and caring kindness all around. Thus, Thingyan becomes an auspicious way to start the New Year with.

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PostSubject: KahSoun(Kasone)   Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:45 pm

KahSoun(Kasone)
May
The Watering Tree Festival



After the very first month ‘Tagu’ with sprays of cool water showering on each other with goodwill comes Kason, the second month of the year. Once again water is poured. However, this time, on the sacred Bodhi tree, the tree of Enlightenment*.

On the full moon of Kason month is a three-fold anniversary: the birth of Prince Siddatha, a Buddha to-be, His attaining of Enlightenment at the foot of Bodhi tree and the passing of the Buddha into Nibbana (the highest spiritual state that can possibly be achieved. It gives the same meaning as ‘Nirvana’).

Such episodes in the Buddha’s existence dwell in poems, songs, plays, paintings, scriptures, and last but not least, in the hearts of the Buddhists. Profound faith is laid by paying respects to the sacred tree, in remembrance of Buddha’s Enlightenment.

With hope of deliverance from suffering, that particular day was warmly welcomed and lies beneath the heart of devotees.

Prince Siddatha, now in hermit’ garb, sat under the Bodhi tree, rejoicing and strong, and from His lips poured forth the words beginning Aneka Jatisangasrung, a song of triumph. It was a glorious moment. He had, for many many lives, sought “who wrought these prisons of the senses, sorrow fraught”. On that morning, he could at last declare, “I know thee, never shall thou build again these walls of pain”. He had become the Buddha.

After 45 years of preaching the Truth he had found, the Buddha passed away to Nibbana on same full moon day of Kason. His last admonition to His disciples was: "Always be mindful: never let yourselves slip into negligence and forgetfulness."

Buddhists celebrate these anniversaries by giving alms, keep precepts, and practise meditation. Since such deeds are done communally, the custom of going to local pagodas in groups is observed for many generations. Men and women of all ages go to local pagodas in order to pour water on the sacred tree. Young women carry water pots on their heads, none too heavy, but just enough to lend them a Balinese grace as they walk along.

The procession, as usual, is attached by music troupes. The Myanmar folk music troupe usually consists of simple instruments, viz., the drum, cymbals, bamboo clappers and flute. With one or more mountebanks dancing to the snappy tunes one can have all the fun and amusement. One needs not to be specially talented to be able to play these instruments, and every one normally can make the dance steps. Anyone can join in. The songs played are folk songs, classical arias and sometimes even modern pop tunes.

*Enlightenment - in Buddhism, enlightenment is the final spiritual state in which everything is understood and there is no more lust or suffering.

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PostSubject: Nayoun(Nayone)   Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:49 pm

Nayoun(Nayone)
June
The Scriptual Examination



The monsoon is in full swing in Nayone (June) the third month of the Myanmar calendar.

Now, everything is wet with overcast skies, and torrential rains and storms. It can be said that it is “fair is foul, and foul is fair” sort of weather. Anyway it might be a change, perhaps not so nice as one would wish, but a change from those hot days should be welcome. Nature is in full splendor and the mind creates a green philosophy in a green atmosphere. The weather is ideal for curling up on a sofa with a nice book. It is also story time when kids gather round the old granny.

The booming sound of thunder was from the celestial drum whose frame was made of the shell of a giant crab who breakfasted on mammoth mastodons. The crab’s claws served as drumsticks. Tha-Gyar-Min, King of the celestials (he‘s the same who comes down to bring in the New Year, remember?), strikes the drum to rally his forces.

With thunder, lighting and rain, it is in this month that scriptual examinations for monks and nuns are held. The lay people, mindful of the service of the monks and their life-long dedication to the study of the Buddha's teachings, do their best to supply the comforts and amenities of the candidates. It is necessary to offer daily alms food to those who come from other towns to the examination centres. Contributions to the cause are donated by the community and organizations.

Organizations take charge of offering daily alms food to a large number of monks. Each household takes in one or more monks, according to their means. Everyone is anxious to do the meritorious deed of giving support to the monks, the Order of Sangha, custodians of the Buddha's Dhamma.

Apart from written examinations, there are those where the candidates have to recite all the scriptures of rote. It is a tremendous undertaking to commit to memory all the Buddha's discourse, known as the Three Baskets of Learing.

There are but few who could pass the recitation tests and those who do are showered with honours and gifts. It is in deep gratitude to the Theras(Monks) of olden times, who enshrined the World of the Buddha in their hearts, that the tradition of recitation by rote is still kept up to this day.

To read an interesting story about this month, click

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PostSubject: Wahsou(Waso)   Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:49 pm

Wahsou(Waso)
July
Lenten Season

The beginning of the Lenten season is marked by Waso, the fourth month of the Myanmar calendar. Sobriety, self-denial and religious contemplation are the auspicious sights of Waso. The tinkling of brass triangular gongs summons lay folk to come and contribute what they can towards the communal offering of alms food for the monasteries.

The day will start with the tinkling of Doo-Wei-Wei from the brass triangular gong and the rich sing-song voice announcing: “Hear Ba-Wun-Taw (pious), good friends, our companions-in-doing meritorious deeds, please wake up. Do make up and prepare alms food for reverend Sangha (monks)… bestir yourselves, good friends”

The announcement is couched in poetic prose together with familiar Pali words like Ba-Wun-Taw (pious). So, with the tinkling of the brass triangular gong in your ears, your roll in your bed from one side to the other murmuring, “So, it’s time to the kitchen. Praise be to Buddha!”

It is still in semidarkness, but not all gloomy, as the air is filled with the grace of the coming day. It is lovely to be woken up by the tinkling of the brass gong and the sing-song chanting of the Neik-Ban-Saws.

How aptly are the organizers of these benevolent activities called Neik-Ban-Saws, ushers-in-to-heaven. They go round in procession collecting alms for monasteries. Some carry silver bowls to gather coins. To receive food, there are large three-legged lacquer trays with sets of small blows inside called 'Soon-Oat'.

People bless the Neik-Ban-Saws, who make things convenient for people to do meritorious deeds that would open the gates of celestial regions. They see that monks are not allowed to stay overnight outside the monastery precincts.

Waso is the time when people perform meritorious deeds and practice contemplation and self-denial. People make it a point of fasting and observing special precepts one day in the week. Even habitual drinkers take a vow of abstinence, for the season, at least. It is good in a way for people to be reminded of the need for self discipline.

Marriages are taboo during the lent. It is actually not because of any religious concept, but because Monsoon season is a busy time for the farmer and it is more convenient to celebrate weddings after the harvest is safely home. But, some implement lovers often rush off to wedlock before the lent begins.

The full moon of Waso month is the anniversary of the first Sermon that the Buddha preached, at Isipatana, sylvan woodland of Migadhaya ( Deer Park). It is meet that the Buddha should deliver his first discourse in the wide open spaces where the deer can wander free and safe. It was where peace reigned and where the running deer and the chasing tiger stopped to listen to the voice of the compassionate Buddha.

The Buddha’s first sermon was heard 25 centuries ago. The four noble truths, namely, Suffering, the Origin of Suffering, Ceasing of Suffering and the path that leads to the Ceasing of Suffering. The light of the four Noble Truths still guides the way of enlightenment to those who are grouping in the dark.

Perhaps many may not be able to grasp the truth the Buddha teaches, but whatever little effort they put in contemplation and meditation gives tem strength to face life. With the Dhamma (the Buddha’s teachings) empowered in the heart, one can spread goodwill and loving kindness all around.

“May we, in future-one of these days, Don the Blossoms of the Dhamma.”

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PostSubject: Re: 12 Monthly Myanmar Festivals   Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:50 pm

Wakhaun(Wagaung)
August
Maha Dok Festival (Alms-Bowls Festival)

A month of downpours – Wagaung – is the time for the peasants to plough their fields and paddy plants ready to be transplanted. Busy city living deters the dwellers of modern cites from appreciating the natural stunning beauty of monsoon. Anyway, heavy rains do not encourage wandering. There is nothing to do but gazing through the window and watching how things are happening with blur effect.

Only the rural areas are where we can see the delightful beauty of the rains. On the outskirts of small towns and villages, fields stretch out infinitely. Once the showers thin away, the trees across the landscape take a bow.

A burst of mass singing comes out as the girls respond to the young men playing Myanmar drums and cymbals as they walk along the ridges of the fields. Since they have already done their share of work – ploughing, they could stroll with their musical instruments to entertain the working girls. They will be wearing wide brimmed coolie hats made of palm fronds under the drizzle.

They young men look dashing and gallant. Their coolie hats, drums and cymbals are harnessed with gaily coloured silk tassels. The music they play is suggestive of thunder rolling from miles afar culminating in a deluge of rain showers.

An item among the beauty aids for Myanmar ladies, high and low, young and not so young, is a thanakha bark. The bark is used as skin conditioner or face pack of make-up foundation. No rice planter girl will go into fields without wearing thanakha paste – a beautifier as well as protection against weather.

Wagaung again is a month for alms-giving by casting lots. According to the tradition and custom, communal groups solicit donors to prepare alms-bowls, one or more each, depending on the means and will of the donor. Each bowl is filled with some rice meal with a curry and dessert like sweets and fruits.

Monks are invited to receive the bowls and lots are drawn. And, the monk is to receive whatever bowl his lot falls. That’s not the end. Each donor is in turn given a number of his bowl and lots are drawn again for the winning number. The lucky donor often receives a sum of money. Usually, the winner is overjoyed with his luck; he believes that he is given another opportunity to do more good deeds of merit. So, he spends his money for yet another alms-giving. He may probably add something from his won pocket to make the gift look more substantial.

Thus, casting lots for alms-bowls is a festive fun and promise. It is called the Maha Dok festival. It all began with a man called Maha Dok, who was the contemporary of the Buddha. To read the complete story of "Maha Dok", click here.

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PostSubject: Tothalin(Tawthalin)   Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:51 pm

Tothalin(Tawthalin)
Semptember
Boat Racing Festival



Monsoon has just gone. The sky becomes clear. As the sun’s rays go through the drizzle, a seven-coloured rainbow starts swinging in the breeze like the tail of phoenix.

Sunny days await you. Sense of romance is the air. The moment of banning on weddings has been lifted with the end of the Lenten season. The couples become busy with their wedding plans.

The month of Taw-tha-lin :
Rain softly pat-patting,
The mighty river rolls out like matting.

So goes the saying. The river, calm and tranquil, is inviting the aquatic sportsmen. This is a month – a month of boat races. This culture of boat races originated since the reign of Myanmar Kings. And, from the songs, poems and books, we get to know that those boat races do not show only speed but also skill and grace. A record says that there are exactly 37 styles of boat rowing. Each style possesses a suggestive name.
E.g. “fairy plucking flowers” and “fairy offering flowers”.

Regattas of those Myanmar Kings’ days were under royal patronage. The royal family, the king, queen, prince and princess, had their own boats participating. There were fun, music and colour galore. Boat songs were composed only for this particular event. The boatmen wore multicoloured liveries that match the banners of the boats.

There is a story regarding this royal regatta festival. It happened when the King Bodawpaya reigned from 1719 to 1819, won a somewhat dubious “victory” over the queen’s. But, one time, the king lost the race for three years running.

That king also had a favourite courtier called U Paw Oo , who was wise, learned, and gifted with irrepressible wit and humour. In addition, he was only one minister who could dare the royal wrath and say what had to be said. He also played the court fool and pinpointed that better judgement was required.

The king got embarrassed by the veiled quips from the queen and her ladies. It was quite sure that the queen’s boat would also win again that year. He could withstand three-years-continuous lose, but it was not good enough to lose again. He must win that year. So, he had to fall back upon U Paw Oo to help him.
U Paw Oo , at last assured his master that things would be very different from previous years.

The great day dawned. There was tense with expectations and thrill. The first participant to come into view was the queen’s. People cheered. The king cast a glance at U Paw Oo. The significance of his eyes was “Just wait and see, Your Majesty”.

“Look – look – His Majesty’s boat is coming.” – someone shouted. That big royal barge bowled along, dignified and stately, oblivious of the queen’s canoe skimming towards the goal. At the prow a bejewelled figurehead dazzled in the sun. At the helm was a comely fairy steering with her flowery soft hands. A bevy of nymphs threw roses and jasmines from aboard.

A loud burst of cheering form the queen’s supporter came out. They threw jibes and quips at the king’s men. There were peals of laughter, no longer discreet or controlled. More jokes at the expense of the king.

The king got numb. He could not even yell for U Paw Oo. He just happened to make a bigger fool of himself. U Paw Oo came closer to his royal master and said, “Your Majesty, can’t you see how your barge has won a decisive victory, like loser of a little canoe runs away for her dear life in the vanguard. Never mind what common people say or think. It is only the wise and the great that know a victory when they see one!”

The king’s unseemly expletives were lost in the peals of laughter and cheering. The show went on with more mirth and fun.

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PostSubject: Re: 12 Monthly Myanmar Festivals   Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:52 pm

Thitintyut(Thadingyut)
October
Festival of Lights




Thadingyut, the seventh month of the Myanmar calendar. It marks the end of the lent. The sky is very clear and bright and monsoon is on the way out. Sunny days are here to say.

The austerity, so briefly and restraint of then Lenten season together with the damp murky gloom of the monsoon-all these have given way to fun and festivities. With the ban of on weddings lifted, there is the scent of engenis leaves and lilies in the air. The soft breeze feels like music of flutes and harps.

There are three days for light festival, namely the day before the full moon day, the full moon day and the day after the full moon day, will be those of dance, music and fun. Illuminations are there to celebrate the anniversary of the Buddha’s return from the celestial abode when he had spent the lent teaching the gods above His Law.

Among the gods was the one who was the mother of the Buddha, reborn there. It was on the full moon day of Thadingyut month that the Buddha desended to the abode o humans. He and His disciples were attended by a heavenly host of celestials who created a pathway of stars. Humans on earth illuminated the homes and streets to welcome the Buddha and His disciples.

Although the anniversary is on the full moon day the Myanmar way of celebrating such an event is to have a festival on the eve, to welcome the day and the actual day and then the day after to give a grand send-off. So, the three festival days instead of one. The more the merrier.

All public buildings, streets and houses are full of lights and festooned with coloured electric bulbs and plastic or paper lantern. One feature of festival in small towns and villages is see-mee lighting; small earthen bowls are filled with sesame oil and a piece of cotton is soaked in each bowl and lighted.

These lighted oil bowls are placed on the terraces of pagodas. The lights last longer than candles and the little tongues of flame quivering in the breeze lend an uncanny beauty to the scene steeped in silvery moonlight. Such lights are sometimes seen on the pagoda in Yangon.

The scene of the Buddha’s descent from the celestial regions is often recreated in the streets or pagoda precincts, all done up on paper Mache and poster paintings and of course, lights. The festival is often called the Tawadaintha feast: Tawadaintha, being the name of the celestial abode where the Buddha spent the Lenten season.

It is a time for remembering those to whom we owe respect and gratitude. It is also a season of festivals and rejoicing. The Buddha’s visit to the celestial regions was to teach the great Truth he had found through rigorous striving for many lives, to his own mother. It was a gesture of gratitude, an example for all to follow. The Buddha made the greatest gift to all, namely the gift of Dhamma(the law) that would deliver her from Suffering once and for all.

According to the Buddhist teaching, there are Five Revered Ones. They are The Buddha, His law, His Order of Monks, Parents and Teachers. During the Thadingyut season Myanmar Buddhists go round paying respects to parents, teachers, elderly relatives and friends.

It is quite usual for the senior citizens in the street or residential quarter to receive gifts and respects from the younger people of the community. Sometimes it is an organized affair, but this does not prevent them from going to older people individually to pay respects. This way, it is more intimate and pleasant.

The word kadaw is an everyday expression in Myanmar life. When you have to say something indelicate or impolite, you say it with the word kadaw; the same word is used as an apology for any transgression like, bumping into someone or stepping on another’s feet. On such occasions the word is synonymous with “sorry’, but with a deeper feelings.

The custom of doing the act of kadaw is rooted in the Buddhist acceptance of the samsara, the round of rebirths, being born and reborn; all beings, humans and others go round the cycle, meeting one another in amicable or hostile relationships. Consequently, among people meeting one another in this present existence there would be love and kindness as there would be hate and enmity as well. There might be wrongful actions committed consciously or unwittingly to one another throughout the unending journey of samsara.

The elders, even as they accept the kadaw from young people ask forgiveness in their turn for any wrongful action or hurt they themselves might have been guilty of. This reciprocal action is called the “erasing the slate”, friends and kinsmen can start with a “clean slate” with nothing but love and kindness. Paying respects or kadaw ceremonies are organized and held in schools. Paying respects to teachers, one of the Five Revered Ones, is still practised. Buddhist parables illustrate the good influence of teachers on their students, even though the latter might have become ruling kings.

So this is the spirit of Thadingyut season…paying respects to these to whom respect is due and remembering those to whom we owe gratitude.

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PostSubject: Re: 12 Monthly Myanmar Festivals   Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:52 pm

Tanhsaunmoun(Tazaungmone)
November
The Festival of Offerings

After four month of rain comes a succession of festive months starting with thadingyut lights festival. It is rather convenient, so say fun-loving Myanmar, that the paper larnterns and decorations are still in fairly good conditions to be put up again in three week’s time. The festival that held in Tazaungmone is usually called Tazungdine festival.

The festival is mentioned in stories before the Buddha’s time as kattika festival, in honour of the guardian gods of the planets, It is said that certain planetary sings of the zodiac are in the ascendant during the month. The influence of the planets in ascendance if such that people’s thoughts are bent in mischief. It is during the month that thieves are moved to ply their trade.

Though Tazaungdine lights festival began in the times immemorial as a folk ritual, it is regarded today as an essentially Buddhist festival. The month is the time for offering the robes to monks. Many monks are in need of new robes. Offering of robes and other gifts, in the season are made not to any individual monk. Offering of gifts to monks, if it is to bear highest fruition must be made to the Order as a whole and not to an individual monk. Donors, being human are often moved to offer gifts to monks by personal feelings.

It is the custom of the community to organize the offering of gifts, everyone contribution on cash or in kind. Members of the same for this purpose and collect gifts for the monastery. People make wooden triangular structures standing in everywhere. Gifts are hanging in structures. Common gifts hang to structures are sets of yellow robes, towels, napkins, cups and umbrella. They are kathina gifts and anyone is welcome to hang whatever he wishes to contribute, a small coin or a cake of soap-no matter however the things are small.

These structures hung together with gifts are called padentha trees. The meaning of padentha is plenty and inexhaustible wealth. The grand moment is when the gift-laden padentha trees are taken in triumph to the monastery, attended by music and dance troupes and bevies of damsels dressed in bright skills. Kathein offering is considered one of the most meritorious deeds.

The highlight of kathein offering is the weaving of non-stale robes so called because the robes are not allowed to go stale, that is to say, they are woven within the space of the night. This, of course, is optional, not necessarily an item in the religious program. It is perhaps a folk tradition to encourage the art of weaving. This ritual glorifies the common labour of the rural folk.

The traditional of weaving the non-sale robes is still carried on at some of the pagoda in Yangon, the capital of Myanmar. Under the glare of neon lights, moonlight hardly has a chance to work its magic. This season is a festive one in the truest sense of the word. Illuminations, shows, all this and padentha trees too.

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PostSubject: Re: 12 Monthly Myanmar Festivals   Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:52 pm

Natto(Nattaw)
December

'Nattaw ( Natto) ' is the name of the ninth month on the Myanmar calendar corresponding to 'December' of the calender in International use. So it is at the onset of the cool season, with misty mornings in November-December The actul spelling in Myanmar Charasters transliterates as 'Nattaw'– 'Nat' is a general term appling to 'spirit' God, Deva or Deity, and Taw or Daw' is honorific signifying 'respect'. In the time of Myanmar Kings, it was a month for oblation to deities of 'Nats', hance the name of the month. Actually, it is not that the Myanmar people are animists paying homage to Nats, but Animism that had taken roots from very early times had perennially survived, though in very limited spheres, when the Theravada Buddhism reached Baggan in the 11th century (C.E.) and King Anawratha accepted it and made it the reion of his kingdom, suppressing all corruot firms of worship including animistices and unwholesome practices that existed in Pre-Buddhist Bagan. Thus, only in ancient times, the seasonal festival was offerings of Nats, but this tradition had vanished in 1885. In the year 1944, a special kind of festival emerged, i.e. a celebration in honour of the literati (Sarsodaw).

Therefore, in the Independent Union of Myanmar, the month of 'Nattaw' (December) is the time for literary activities, honouring those to whom honour is due as in the times of Myanmar Kings. Ceremonies of giving awards in various fields of literary work are usually held on the anniversaries of great literary figures–like Na-wa-de, Nat-shin-naung, Seinda-Kyawthu, Let-wei-thondra, Myawady Mingyi U Sa, U Ponnya, etc. Writers and poets travel all the country to meet their readers and hold seiminars, discussions and talks on literary subjects.

Kayin New Year
The Kayins, one of the Union National Groups in the Union of Myanmar, celebrate their "new crop" cermony bringing in their New Year. Garbed in their national costunes, dances and songs are put on show high-lighting with their lively 'Don' folk dance.

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PostSubject: Re: 12 Monthly Myanmar Festivals   Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:53 pm

Phathou (Pyatho)
January
Equestrian Festval




Myanmar is a Land of festivals since the day of Myanmar Kings. Every month, there is a major festival to be celebrated. Pyatho is the 10th Myanmar month in the middle of the cool season, from mid-December to January. It is the month designated for the equestrian festival. Equestrian festival was held virtually the whole month, as competitions in horsemanship, bowsmanship, lancing and swordsmanship, shooting and martial arts were involved. It was in effect an occasion to select heroes.

The Royal equestrian festivals were held in Palace grounds. The last monarch of Myanmar in Yadanapon Era, King Thibaw did hole the festival watching it from the special pandal built in the eastern stand.The occasion commenced with the royal Pageantry. The grand scene of the marching out in formation of the infantry, the cavalry and the elephants as the main columns, followed by the rear flank in enactment of the procession of ancient Myanmar Kings. The spectacular display was inspiriting patriotic spirit and pride.

Once, Myanmar King has organized the equestrian festival not as an occasion for festivity but to select men of valour for the defence of the nation. The King himself reviewed the show. Nowadays, National Independence Day coincides with the Pyatho festival and it is one of the most auspicious months of the year. Myanmar sustained its independence for millennium, but lost its sovereignty to foreign domination in no time. However, all national races joined forces and put up an armed struggle as soon as after British invasion to regain sovereignty and national independence for more than a decade. There are bitter lessons not to be forgotten by the nation. Unlike the olden days, Pyatho festivities are being held in the context of Independence Day. Festivities are celebrated all over the country during this month.

The Government and people of the Union of Myanmar celebrate the Independence Day on 4th January every year commencing from 4th January, 1948. The whole country is lit up. Yangon is ablaze at night with illuminations all over the city. All Myanmars, in various walks of life, celebrate with 'Pwes', fun fair and races all over the cuuntry.Therefore, the month of Pyatho is not only to be remembered for the past glory but also to remind us of the importance of national unity as investment. Moreover, Pyatho, nowadays this particular period is reserved mostly for local pagoda festivals. A few major paya-pwes(pagoda festivals) are held in Pyatho. The famous Ananda Temple festival of Bagan falls at this time.

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PostSubject: Re: 12 Monthly Myanmar Festivals   Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:53 pm

Tapoutwe(Tabodwe)
February
Festival of Hta-ma-nae(Glutinous Rice)



Tabodwe(February), the eleventh month of the Myanmar claender, is the time for the festival of 'Hta-ma-ne' in honour of the traditional harvesting period –a light food preparation of glutinous rice, cocked and crushed in oil, with addition of other ingredients such as ground-nut, sesamum seeds, ginger and coconut slices.Htamane feast is either celebrated communally or done just in the private circle of family and friends. The nature of the feast is such that, in whatever way the feast is celebrated, it means a big gathering because many hands are needed. In a communal feast people come around with contributions of glutinous rice and other ingredients. It is an option though; one can just give his service, if not anything else.

Boys and men tear away the fibres of the coconut until the shell inside makes it appearance. This also call for dexterity, strength and experience. The shell is broken and milk inside is shared by the deservine workers. The kernel is taken out and sliced on a carpenter's plane. Girls shell the peanuts; the seed are put on a flat tray and a fair-sized bottle is rolled over therm to remove the thin husk. Meanwhile, a giant concave iron pot is put over the fireplace, a pit dug for the purpose. Cooking oil is sizzling and shredded ginger is the first to go in, and then the glutinous rice which has been socked in water.

A large cauldron of water is kept to be added to the glutinus rice cooking in the pot. When the rice is soft enough, the iron pot is removed from the fire and two stalwart men, each with a huge wooden ladle, begin to stir the rice crushing it between the ladles. An experienced man help between the two men to smooth the stir operation, holding two ladles harmoniously. Even as they stir and crush, the glutinous rice gets stickier and they have to use not only their strength but also their skill to make the coagulate mass yield to their ladles.

After some time of vigorous stirring and crushing, people come round to add sliced coconuts and peanuts to make the hold thing a good mixture. Sesamum seeds are added list. This last does not call for strength, but it needs skill, so Myanmar say. The bland and flavour of 'Hta-ma-ne' depends on the seasamum seed sprinkler, it is said.

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PostSubject: Re: 12 Monthly Myanmar Festivals   Mon Feb 16, 2009 5:54 pm

Tapaun(Tabaung)
March
Month of Pagoda Festivals

Tapaung is the twelfth Myanmar month and the last month in the Myanmar calendar and usually falls in February-March. It is the time of transition from the cold to the hot season. Gossamer clouds drift over clear blue skies and streams and rivers have changed over from their rolling boisterous role in monsoon to a sedate , limpid demureness in accordance with their losses in volume and rates of flow. Thus, it is no wonder that poets praised the scenic beauty associated with this month.

With the fall in the water levels of rivers and streams, sand banks appear on this pristine sand. In the ancient times of Myanmar Royalty, as there were a lot of splendid sand banks emerged during this period and as the weather is very pleasant and favorable for recreation . The king , queens and their entourage surrounded by guards went to these lovely sand banks in the rivers and create Stupas which are made glittering white sand. The raising of stupas made of sand and festivities surrounding this activity used to be a prominent feature of this month. This consisted basically of moulding river sand into the shape of a stupa using concentric rings of bamboo matting or rattan cane to form the outline and decorating with various religious motifs such as pennants, banners, real and artificial flowers. Pagoda festivals are held for each particular pagoda all over the country including local festivals of paying homage to the Buddha in what are known as 'Sand Stupa Festivals'.

These festivals are traditional Myanmar equivalent of the western fun fairs. Food stalls, toy shops, shops, with all kinds of consumer goods, magic shows, puppet shows and drams – all there form part of the festival. Today, this festivity is to much more likely to be celebrated in song and the practice is on the wane, except in some cities and towns in upper part of Myanmar., but the time is still held sacred for holding of Buddha Pujayanti ceremonies, that is , occasionally for rededication of the pagodas. The most salient fact about this very month is that most of the prominent Paya-pwes ( Pagoda Festivals) are held during this month, for instance, Shwedagon Pagoda Festival at Yangon (Former Capital City of Myanmar).

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12 Monthly Myanmar Festivals

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