Festivals in January

Ananda Pagoda Festival (Bagan)

Ananda Temple is the masterpiece, the finest and best art in architecture, much well preserved among all the temples in Bagan, its shape and pattern is significantly distinct, built by king Kyansittha (1084-1113 AD). The temple’s name means the endless wisdom of Buddha. Annually, the festival is held in the first week of January. Ananda Pagoda is one of the most famous pagodas in Bagan. Built by King Kyansittha of the Bagan Dynasty in late 11th century it is also rated as the most aesthetic and artistic structure in Bagan. The Ananda Pagoda Festival is held annually on the Fullmoon of Pyatho (January). This annual festival has been around for more than 2000 years and even now people from the surrounding villages come to the festival the traditional way-in bullock carts. They also stay the whole 7 days duration of the event, camping under the spreading acacia trees around the pagoda. The villagers come here in accordance with King Kyansittha’s edict that everybody who lives by the harvest from the land that falls in the shadow of the Ananda Pagoda must contribute 10% of the harvest as tithe for the maintenance of the pagoda. There are stalls too, selling everything from daily necessities to cosmetics and food stalls of course. The festival ends with the traditional donation ceremony for the monks on the fullmoon day of Pyatho. Bagan is easily accessible by all modes from transport from all over Myanmar. There are many accommodation facilities, both at Bagan or nearby Nyaung oo to suit everybody’s budget. Tours to nearby Mt. Popa and Salay are added bonus for those travelling to the Ananda Pagoda Festival.

Kachin Manaw Festival (Kachin State)

Manaw festival is the most renowned as well as the most ancient in Kachin State. It is also the grandest among all the festivals concerned with tradition and culture for Kachin hill tribes, celebrated at least 4 days up to 8 days in regard to ethnic and communal ceremonies such as wedding, funeral, spirits (nats), and the ceremony of tasting the very first crops; a feast with Kachin traditional food and booze (Kaung Ye) made of rice is served to whoever participates the festival. Both locals and foreigners dance together much happily days and nights in wearing traditional Kachin costumes. The festival is joined by those who live in different villages and hill sites. It is perfect time to observe hill tribes and its ways of life and to enjoy the confluence (Myitsone) of Maikha and Malikha, the source of the Ayeyarwaddy River. From Kachin State, one can expend to Putao based town surrounded by snow peaked mountains. Kachins are from one of the main ethnic groups that live in Myanmar. Their home is in the high mountains of the North. The Kachins are most renown for the colourful dresses of their womenfolks, black velvet blouses hung with silver trinkets and red, thick sarong woven in native designs. Every year in January the Kachins hold a Manaw (a traditional commemorative festival) to welcome in the Kachin New Year. All the Kachin sub-clans gather at the Manaw Grounds at Myitkyina and celebrate this festival. Normally, the Kachn Manaw Festival falls on January 10 every year but interested individuals should contact their travel agents ahead to confirm the dates. Myitkyina is easily accessible by flight from all over the country and there are adequate accommodations in town.

Naga Festival (Chin State)

Naga New Year festival is one of the most breathtaking and exciting events among many festivals in Myanmar. The Naga are one of Myanmar national races who live in Naga land, Sagaing Division, north-west of Myanmar towards the Indian boarder. Their annual New Year festival is celebrated in the mid of January and participated by about 30 Naga clans. They wear different costumes in colour and styling. Visitors can encounter the colourful dresses, animal horns, tiger fangs, bear claws and also silver and bronze accessories and other interesting unseen decorations that we dress up for their performance of Naga essence of history and its own world. Naga enjoy hunting. With the honour of their bravery, Naga served traditional dinners of wild boar and other meat with Naga rice wine. They pray, sing and dance for the greater good of harvests and meals for the coming year. On New Year’s Eve, a bonfire is set up in the middle of the occasion and the opening ceremony is started as Naga tribes gathered and the festival pole is raised up on the first day and they make wishes. The main aim of the festival is to ever last friendship and amity between all Naga clans and tribes. The annual festival is held in the mid of January. To all visitors, Naga New Year festival in Naga land is a different world and amazing land to be visited and observed. The Naga people are inhabitants of the high peaks that mark the border between Myanmar and India in the far northwestern corner of the country. There are more than 49 Naga sub-clans and every year they congregate at a designated town in the Naga Hills to mark the New Year. The various Naga sub-clans come to the festival dressed in their exotic costumes; men folks in monkey fur wicker hats stuck with hornbill feathers and wild boar tusks. Some might even have tiger fangs hanging around their necks. In ancient times there were photographs of topless Naga women but now all come dressed modestly in native patterned sarongs and blouses. The Festival will start with the raising of the Ceremonial Pole, beating of the Ceremonial Drum, collective dancing and other traditional entertainments. It ends on the night of January 15 with a conga line dance by all, both natives and visitors, around a huge crackling bonfire inside the festival grounds. Normally the Naga New Year Festival is from January 14 to 15 and rotates among the three towns in the Naga Hills. This year’s Naga New Year Festival will be at Lahe. Many travel agents in Myanmar offer packaged tours for foreigners to visit the Festival. Interested persons should contact their travel agents for full information and details.