September is a month of celebrations and festivities in Myanmar, which makes it an excellent time to visit the Southeast Asian country. As Myanmar Buddhists prepare to enter the end of the Buddhist Lent, communities around the country are gearing up for a number of festivities that will see locals from all over the regions dressed in their best clothes, engaged in boat racing, donning life-size elephant puppets and parading with millions of oil lamps — all set to take place from September to the beginning of October. The timing also coincides with the end of the green season, guaranteeing lush landscapes, perfect temperatures at around 25-30 degrees Celsius and best bargains on hotel deals.
In line with the upcoming festivities, Myanmar Tourism Marketing has launched an events calendar on its Facebook page, where the public can access more information about the festivals and relevant places of interest. The calendar also provides timely guidance on the festivals, which are calculated based on Myanmar lunar calendar and thus may not be easily understood otherwise. The page is updated on a daily basis and serves as a useful and practical guide for travellers. It also regularly shares news on developments in the tourism sector in Myanmar along with videos, pictures, travel blogs and plenty of other stories.
Myanmar Tourism Marketing highly encourages tourists and journalists from all over the world to come see for themselves the beauty of Myanmar and participate in the festivals.
“Despite the recent growth in the number of tourists coming to Myanmar, the actual number of overseas tourists visiting places like Bagan or Inle Lake is only 280,000 people per year, so there is plenty of space to accommodate more tourists. By putting up a calendar of these extraordinary events on Facebook, we hope to assist tourists and other visitors in planning their trip to or around Myanmar,” said Ma May Myat Mon Win, Myanmar Tourism Marketing Chairperson.
Some of the upcoming festivals in Myanmar include:
Manuha Pagoda Festival (Bagan, September 4 – 6, 2017)
Manuha Pagoda Festival is held for three days starting from the day before Full Moon Day of Tawtalin (the dates will vary depend on the Myanmar Calendar). The Myinkaba Region dwellers donate rice cakes and pickled winter melon to visitors during the festival. This traditional practice is said to have descended from the time of the King Manuha and can still be seen at the festival today. Monks gather during the festival to receive food offerings in big alms bowls around the Pagoda. Colourful papier-mâché figures competitions take place during the Manuha Pagoda Festival and you will see a parade of colours around the city in the forms of the Manuha King himself, tigers, cows, elephants, horses, etc.
Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda festival (Inle Lake, September 21 – October 8, 2017)
Upea festivaali, jossa veneet, joissa on jopa 50 tai 60 säärisoutajaa, vetävät proomua pyhillä Buddha-kuvilla kylästä toiseen järvelle. Tarkka aikataulu tiedetään usein vain muutama viikko etukäteen, ja aina on joitain ”lepopäiviä”. Yritä olla yksityisellä veneellä järvellä ja pyydä veneilijää tiedustelemaan, missä kulkue kulkee, ja voit olla varma, että otat upeita kuvia tästä kulkueesta. Se on mukava käydä festivaali, vaikka se voi olla vähän tungosta. Suunnittele muutama päivä Inle Lakessa varmistaaksesi, että et menetä kulkua.
Dancing elephant festival (Kyaukse, October 4 – 6, 2017)
Kyaukse, about three hours’ drive from Bagan (same distance from Mandalay) is famous for the big papier-mâché elephant costumes made here. Two men wearing the elephant costume show acrobatic dancing in the streets of Kyaukse. A good festival to see village life in Myanmar, and rest assured, there are no real elephants involved in this festival.
Thadingyut – festival of lights (Nationwide, October 4 – 6, 2017)
The end of the Buddhist Lent is a time to pay respect to parents, teachers and elderly persons. On the full moon day in October (often the middle of October) houses and pagodas are lit with candles. If you’re in the country on this day, light a candle near your hotel and walk around the city in the evening (or visit the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon if you happen to be there) and enjoy the magical atmosphere.
There will also be smaller festivals (pwe) arranged in towns throughout Myanmar, usually involving some kind of entertainment, a bit of shopping opportunity and a diverse range of food.