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Wednesday 23 August 2017
Myanmar prepares for the dancing elephants and other unique festivals
A festive atmosphere, local people from all over the region in their best clothes, boat racing, dancing elephants, colourful parades and millions of oil lamps. It’s hard to imagine something more exotic, fairy-tale like or simply mind blowing than the upcoming festivals celebrated in Myanmar in September and the beginning of October 2017. Let us be clear and avoid a big backlash from animal rights organisations: we’re not talking about real elephants but papier-mâché life size puppets with 2 men inside create a life size elephant according to century old Myanmar traditions.
Myanmar is preparing for the end of the Buddhist Lent and it’s a period many unique festivals around the country are organised offering excellent opportunities for tourist to participate and experience the kind of festivals you would normally only see on National Geographic Channel. It coincides with one of the best periods to visit Myanmar as September is towards the end of the green season which means lush landscapes, perfect temperatures around 25-30 degrees and some bargain hotel deals.
Myanmar Tourism Marketing is encouraging tourists and journalists from all over the world to join the festivals and started an event calendar on their main Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/myanmartm/events. The page daily updates and shares news on developments in tourism in Myanmar, videos, pictures, travel blogs and plenty of other stories to give both travellers as overseas tour operators a taste of Myanmar.
“Although we saw a recent growth of number of tourists to Myanmar, the actual number of overseas tourists visiting places like Bagan or Inle Lake is only 280.000 people per year”, says Ma May Myat Mon Win, Myanmar Tourism Marketing Chairperson, so there is plenty of space to accommodate more tourists. Festival dates are calculated based on the Myanmar lunar calendar and this is not easy to understand” she says, “even for Myanmar people”. With the easy accessible events calendar on Facebook, MTM wants to ensure dates are clear for everybody and will update regularly colourful pictures to get you in the mood for these extraordinary festivals.
Some of the festival happening in Myanmar in the coming months:
Manuha Pagoda Festival (Bagan – 4th to 6th September 2017)
Manuha Pagoda Festival is held 3 days starting from one 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 the 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 bowl 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 – 21st September to 08th October 2017)
A spectacular festival whereby boats with up to 50 or 60 leg rowers are pulling a barge with sacred Buddha images from one village to the other on the lake. The exact schedule is often only known a few weeks in advance and there are always some “resting days”. Try to be in a private boat on the lake and ask the boatman to enquire where the procession will be passing and you can be sure to make some great images of this procession. It is a nice festival to visit although it can be a bit crowded. Plan to have a couple of days in Inle Lake to make sure you don’t miss the procession.
Dancing elephant festival (Kyaukse –4th to 6th October 2017)
Kyaukse, about 3 hours’ drive from Bagan (same distance from Mandalay) is famous for the big papier-mâché elephant costumes made here. 2 man wearing the elephant costume show acrobatic dancing in the streets of Kyaukse. A good festival to see village life in Myanmar, there are no real elephants involved in this festival.
Thadingyut – festival of lights (Nationwide – 4th to 6th October 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.
Also smaller towns around Myanmar often organise their own traditional festivals which usually includes some kind of entertainment, a bit of shopping opportunity and of course a lot of different food. Keep your eyes open for these traditional s “pwe’s”
Additional information and sources:
Kyaukse Dancing elephant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnbciAGvRM0
The Myanmar calendar: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burmese_calendar
About Myanmar “Pwe” or festival: https://www.britannica.com/place/Myanmar/Cultural-life#ref995281
About Myanmar Tourism Marketing
Myanmar Tourism Marketing (MTM) aims to promote Myanmar as a sustainable tourism destination that can be visited the whole year round. It is part of the Myanmar Tourism Federation and is mainly privately funded by key members of the tourism industry in Myanmar. The MTM team is happy to assist press and media to publish more about tourism in Myanmar. Visit www.tourismmyanmar.org and follow us on www.facebook.com/myanmartm
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Media queries and questions regarding this Press Release or future media trips or TV and film opportunities in Myanmar can be addressed to:
Myanmar Tourism Marketing
No. 204, Bo Myat Tun Road (Middle Block) Pazundaung Township
Tel: +959 977204456, 58, 59, 60
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