Myanmar celebrates festival of light on unprecedentedly grand scale
by Khin Zar Thwe
YANGON, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Sound of merry-making music and songs can be heard here and there along the roads of downtown Yangon, Myanmar, bringing in festive atmosphere to celebrate Tazaungdaing festival, a festival of light.
Colourful lights are seen decorated everywhere in public areas and on buildings to celebrate the festival, which falls in Tazaungmone month, the eighth month of Myanmar calendar year.
On the full moon day of Tazaungdaing festival on Thursday, some well-known pagodas are now congested with Buddhist devotees and pilgrims offering alms, candle lights, joss sticks, flowers and fruits as homage to the pagodas.
As part of the festival, an activity called robe-weaving competitions, known as Matho Thingan competitions, is held for two days, starting in the eve of the full moon day throughout the night to the dawn of the next day to weave special yellow monk robes to be offered to the monks.
Another notable festival -- Kathina festival, is being celebrated by bringing tree-shaped moveable stands where varieties of offerings and gifts are hung, accompanied with Myanmar traditional orchestra bands playing music with dance on the journey bringing the offerings to monasteries.
At the festival nights, Yangon's downtown area is crowded with people enjoying the festival at the food stalls and snacks booths.
People can also enjoy some fun rides including human-powered Ferris Wheel and other activities together with families and friends.
At the night of full moon day, Myanmar people have "Mezali" salad, which is believed to be a healthy meal in accordance with the religious rites.
Mezali is kind of flower-buds of the tree, usually boiled and seasoned with sesames, groundnut, fried garlic and other ingredients.
There is also one fun activity of celebrating the festival -- a traditional game called Kyeemanoe Pwe, in which youngsters play game of practicing mischief on their neighbours by stealing things from them or playing tricks on them on the following day of the full moon day.
Meanwhile, during the festive season, famous hot air-balloons launching competitions are also held on grand scale in Taunggyi, Shan state, featuring handmade hot air-balloons shaped in animals.
During the competition, people release sky lanterns and beautifully decorated hot air-balloons with fireworks and candles strapped to the bases.
Tazaungdaing festival is celebrated as the national holiday as well as to mark the end of rainy season in the country.
The origin of the festival predates the introduction of Buddhism to Myanmar and is believed to stem from the Kattika festival, which honors the guardian planets in Hindu astrology.