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Tazaungdine Festival- Double Treats after Thadingyut

Tazaungdine Festival- Double Treats after Thadingyut

Tazaungdine Festival- Double Treats after Thadingyut

Monsoon winds recede, rains peters off and sightings of clear blue skies become more often; it is now the open season  and the best time to celebrate many glittering festivals in Myanmar, other than the famous Thadingyut Festival held in the month of Thadingyut, roughly coinciding with October. If you haven’t got enough of the lights and fun atmosphere of Thadingyut, there is Tazaungdine, another festival celebrated with lights. Tazaungdine is held in the month of Tazungmone, the month succeeding Thadingyut – the end of Lent in the Myanmar calendar – thus roughly coinciding with November. Tazaungdine is characterized by more religious as well as more fun activities – Myanmar way. Tazaungdine Festival is celebrated in mid-November when Myanmar weather is in its best behaviour. People in every corner of the nation take part in this annual festival.

One of the significant events in this month is Kahtain – a Buddhist religious occasion. After a three-month stay their residences without virtually any movement as required by Lord Buddha to – surprisingly enough –  save nature, since travels degrade the environment (a pretty advanced concept given the time of the issuance of this edict – 25 centuries ago), and avoid trampling plantations by farmers, monks naturally need new robes and other utilities. Therefore, offerings are made to the Sangha or more commonly known as the congregation of monks with requisites comprising robes and such items as umbrellas, slippers, clocks, towels, cakes of soap – among the barest necessities to live the frugal monastic life, and hang them on the Padaytha Tree (Tree of Plenty decorated with offerings), especially on the full moon day of Tazaungmone, accompanied by pomp and fanfare depending on the means of donors. These events are preceded by processions on the previous day, one day before the full moon day, with folks in villages, towns and cities making donations to monks as well as people with foods and offertories. Trees of plenty are adorned with tinsels, bank notes folded into manifold shapes and hung with numerous offertories  to be donated to the monasteries on the full moon day of Tazaungmone with professions and celebrations.

A special event related to Kathain is Mathoe Robe Weaving. Robes feature prominently in Asian cultures, among Buddhists in particular, since, after renouncing the lay life, monks are entitled only two three pieces of robes for life and are not supposed to have any worldly possessions.   Mathoe robe is a special kind of robe reserved to be offered to the Buddha at dawn which is believed to bring unparalleled merits incomparable to offerings of other natures. The world ‘Mathoe’ itself means ‘fresh’, which in turn means the robes to be offered to the Lord has to be woven in the space of a single night – characterized by an overnight weaving competition. Two days before the full moon day of Tazaungmone, Mathoe Robe Weaving Competition is held in all the prominent pagodas in cities and towns of Myanmar. The most famous competition in Myanmar is the one held in the precincts of Shwedagon Pagoda. The robe woven by the winning team is offered to the Buddha at the dawn of the full moon day of Tazaungmone which in itself is an honour accorded only to the most talented, creative and successful weaver. This event not only portrays the meritorious deeds of Myanmar people but also illustrates Myanmar traditional weaving.

Tazungdine festival is held all over Myanmar and celebrated in similar but some creative manners. Taunggyi Tazaungdine Festival held in Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State in eastern Myanmar, is also a significant event held in Tazaungmone. What sets Taunggyi Tazungdine apart from similar events is its hot air balloon competition – a multi-million kyats affair participated by Taunggyi and Shan natives. Enjoy the kaleidoscope of Taunggyi night scene brilliantly lit by hundreds of usually massive balloons created under numerous themes. Participants enter the competition with their creatively designed hot air balloons in shapes of all imaginable kinds animals, mythical birds, words or more frequently the Buddha. The festival is held day and night, with night competitions allowing two categories of balloons: Nya Mee Gyi and Sein Na Pan. The competition held at night is much more intense and has more spectators and participants than the day event. November brings coolness to Myanmar, to Taunggyi in particular, since it is early winter/cold season. In the cool weather of Taunggyi’s winter, atmosphere of the balloon festival is  pleasant with unusual sights of festively decorated balloons rising into the air while the festival ground is packed with spectators and balloon teams. Some other places in Myanmar also release hot air balloons to celebrate Tazaungdine but usually in more scaled down grandeur than Taunggyi.  The aims are all the same anyway –  paying respects to the Culamani pagoda in the heaven, believed to be enshrined with Buddha’s requisites.

Tazaungdine is also an occasion in which gratitude is expressed to elders for a wonderful job done. On the full moon day of Tazaungmone, people pay respects to the elders in their families and neighbourhoods. At night, houses and streets are glittering with the decoration of colorful light buds, lamps and candles. The most delectable and medicinal delicacy of Tazaungmone is the salad of Mezali buds (Siamese Cassia), and eat them as the buds have the best nutrition for health only on the full moon day of Tazaungmone according to the elders’ sayings. A not so popular part of Myanmar culture but a favourite of pranksters is playing tricks on neighbours and friends at midnight of the full moon day. Young men hide items placed outdoors, usually in a good natured prank, or swap possessions, e.g. a sign from doctor ‘s clinic can be found hanging on a butchers’ door or vice versa, mostly to a hilarious effect. These are some of the annual events happening during Tazaungdine, beautiful and charming traditions of Myanmar.

Tazaungdine Festival carries a religious significance and it is also the second month of merrymaking, the first being Thadingyut, after a mostly monastic and housebound life during the three months of Buddhist Lent. An essential part of Myanmar life, Tazaungdine is an important event for Myanmars for its religious connotation as well as immense fun. Myanmar villages and towns would come to life every year in November – a time of the year which guarantees a cool, pleasant weather –  with a lively atmosphere of revelers rejoicing in festive occasions as well as the sight of well-wishers doing meritorious deeds sharing and caring with all and sundry, all performed with a solicitous mindset.

About the Author

Sky Bird Travels & Tours, founded in 2012, your One-Stop Travel Partner in Myanmar, provides bespoke travel and tour services to individual travelers and groups from Myanmar and all over the world. Sky Bird is the initiative of two women entrepreneurs with backgrounds in tourism and development sector. Myanmar is our home and we want you to experience the wonders of our serene culture, our friendly people, our beautiful landscapes and our religious heritage.

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