Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda Festival
The famous legendary Pagoda on the Golden Rock about 160 Km from Yangon and 11 km of hiking from the base camp at Kyaikhto. Visitors can also go by car up to a point about a mile away from the Pagoda. This pagoda is situated on a rocky mountain 3615 ft above sea level. The Kyaikhtiyo pagoda is one of the most ancient and celebrated of all pagodas in Myanmar. It is situated in the vicinity of Kyaikhto township. Thaton district. The pagoda is said to have been built during the life-time of the Buddha over 2400 years ago.
The Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda Festival is a special festival of lights celebration. On the Full Moon Day of Thadingyut. locals offer the lighting of 9000 candles and 9000 flowers to the Biuddha. On the next morning. rice. sweets and other snacks are offered. The platform and passage of the pagoda are usually filled with visitors from all over the country. Tourists also find the golden rock pagoda magnificent. Thadingyut usually falls in October. depending on the lunar calendar. At such a time. the weather is cold up on the mountain.
During the festival time most of the local places and hotels around the pagoda are fully booked. Some people travel to the base of the mountain by car. and then hike up the mountain on foot. Some people climb the mountain by ferry buses. Some hike up with carriers.
Dancing Elephant Festival
Dancing Elephant Festival is also another famous festival in Myanmar. It is held in Kyaukse. near Mandalay. It is a marvelous performance of two men together to dance in rhythm. A huge elephant figure is made from bamboo and paper. Men take their places inside the figure and dance around the town to the accompaniment of Dobat and Drums. The elephant dancers circles three times at the foot of the hill to pay homage to the Shwe Tha Lyaung Pagoda. It is a dance that requires precise rhythm and timing in order for the elephant dancers to maintain unity inside the elephant figure. People from far and near come to visit Kyaukse and watch the elephant dance.
Festival of Lights (Thadingyut)
Thadingyut is a seven-month of Burmese calendar and the end of lent. Three days of lights festival. namely the day before full moon. the full moon day and the days after. Illuminations are there to celebrate the anniversary of Buddha’s return from the celestial abode where He had spent the lent teaching the celestials about His Law. Among the gods was the one who was the mother of Buddha. reborn there. It was on the full moon day of Thadingyut month that Buddha descended to the abode of humans. He and His disciples were attended by a heavenly host of celestials who created a pathway of star ladder. Buddhist on earth illuminated the homes and streets to welcome Buddha and His disciples.
History of Thadingyut
Myanmar is rich in culture. and has developed its own distinctive culture. Buddhism has great influence on the daily lives of Myanmar people.
The Full Moon Day of Thadingyut is the Lighting Festival of Myanmar. The festival is held at the end of the lent on the festival day it as a custom. It celebrates the descent of Buddha from heaven after he preached the Abidhama (the most difficult of Buddhist teaching) to his mother reborn in heaven.
Why do people light up?
When Lord Buddha descended from heaven after preaching his reborn mother. people all over the country light candles to welcome back. As years passed by. it became a tradition and a festival. The festival in a small town and villages are more enjoyable than in cities. In small towns. there are small earthen saucers filled with sesame oil where pieces of cotton are used as wicks. People collect donations for charity. decoration and entertainment purposes. Roads and streets are full with amateur dancing groups. music troupes. stalls and spectators for free entertainment. On the festival day. groups of young people and children can be seen walking with candles and gifts in their hands to pay respect elders. In Burmese we call Kadaw. actually it is more than paying respects or doing obeisance. For the Buddhist. the Buddha. His law. His Order of the Sangha. Parents and Teachers are the first to be reserved. next come those who are older and those to whom we owe gratitude.
Myanmar traditional weddings
Marriages are usually tabooed during the Buddhist lent. perhaps this customs is a bit conservative. but weddings during the lent are really rare. It is more fun to begin one’s married life amidst festivities. Thadingyut. therefore. is not only replete with festivities. but also an auspicious Myanma custom of remembering gratitude.
Paying Homage to elders
Younger people pay homage to elders during this season. They ask for forgiveness if they have committed any and in return. the elders give them back love and forgiveness.