Thadingyut, the seventh month of the Myanmar calendar, roughly coincides with October and it marks the open season after four months of Buddhist Lent. Thadingyut festival is a commemoration to welcome the Buddha’s descent from the heaven after preaching about the Abhidhama, the most exalted doctrine in Buddhism laying out principles and life and materials, to mother in his previous life, Maya Devi who died seven days after giving birth to the Buddha-to-be to be reborn later in the heaven abode. And people all over the country light candles to welcome back Buddha.
Thadingyut festival is the second most popular festival in Myanmar after Thingyan new year water festival .The Thadingyut festival is called the festival of lights and celebrated in the first or second week of October and lasts for three days. During this festival every Buddhist in Myanmar lights up colorful candles in front of houses, monasteries, pagodas and streets. Candles used to be the regular fare but nowadays colorful bulbs and balloons as special decorations are becoming increasingly common. Parks, public building, monuments and houses are decorated with colorful electric lights.
Thadingyut is also a time to acknowledge service done and express gratitude. Youths prepared foods , seasonal fruits, medicines and flowers to be given as presents or offertories in gratitude to parents , teachers , grandparents and elders as an expression of respect and asking forgiveness for past wrongs, if any. In return elder people bless them with good luck and best wishes and give them some big notes as pocket money.
Most of Myanmar people go to monasteries and pagodas to lights up the candles, give donations and to do merit. The Thadingyut festival is an annual affair with long traditions – religious as well as social. Pagodas are thronged with pilgrims. It is also the best time to get an insight into Buddhism which has great influence on the daily lives of Myanmar people. Some activities during the festival are definitely not part of Buddhism, e.g. kids like to play with firecrackers. But, generosity mostly abound – you will come across pandals or pavilions at pagodas offering free meals and traditional foods to visitors with traditional music and loud cracks of firecrackers in the background.
Children and adults alike have their break with schools and offices closed more or less than 10 days as part of Thadingyut holidays. Some go on leisure trips with family or friends while others do their religious obligations. It is taboo to enter into matrimony during the four months of Lent, so, after the Thadingyut festival, which marks the end of Lent, many couples tie the knot. Nightlife during the festival is filled with happiness with free music shows and open-air theatres. Visitors can lose themselves in the hubbub of conversational crowds and feast their eyes on colorful lights all over the streets. If you want to participate in one of Myanmar’s most popular cultural festivals, Thadingyut festival is an ideal.