Another well-known festival is the Tazaungdaing Festival, which is celebrated nationwide on the full moon of Tazaungmone, the eighth month of Myanmar calendar. This festival is known as the Festival of Lights and also famous for its celebrations including hot air balloons.
It is basically a religious festival and hot air balloons decorated with candles are released to celebrate the full moon day and traditionally, to offer to the Sulamani zedi in heaven. Lately it has become a hot-air balloon competition festival and it is held annually in November, around the full moon day of Tazaungmone. Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State, celebrates the most prominent hot-air balloon festival and it is very popular among locals and international travelers. Locals prepare their hot-air balloons 5 or 6 months prior to the competition, spending time and money for decoration including fireworks, lights and giant paper painting. During the festival, the people all around the country visit Taunggyi to enjoy the stunning views of hot – air balloons in the various forms and shapes: pagodas, animals, such as elephants, ducks and rugby balls and huge elongated paper lanterns. The sky is colorfully illuminated with hot air balloons with fireworks and fire-crackers being inflated and floated off into the sky. This festival attracts not only local people but also foreigners therefore most hotels are fully booked and the traffic jams are common in Taunggyi as people make their way to the festival.
Festival of hot air balloons
Another tradition of the festival is robe weaving competition and it is held throughout the country, particularly in Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. Before full moon day, special yellow monk robes weaving competitions are held and the robe must be finished before midnight. And these robes are offered to the Buddha image.
Robe weaving competition
Alms-giving and charity, both religious and secular festivals are also held during this festival. In Burmese tradition, during the full moon day of Tazaungmone, Burmese families pack Siamese cassia buds and prepare it in a salad called (mezali phoo thoke). As a legend, if we enjoy it at midnight on full moon day of Tazaungmone, we can have medical properties from it. On this night, the young men celebrate a custom called (Kyimano Pwe), by stealing or playing tricks on their neighbors and this activity can be seen in small towns.
Mezali Phoo Thoke and Kyimano Pwe
Another famous activity is celebrating ‘ Kahtein’, Buddhist ceremony in which people make all sorts of donations to monks as an expression of gratitude. The people living in the same ward or the people working in the same office or trade or compound or same profession collect the gifts for donation to monasteries. The people decorated these offerings : yellow robes and slippers, umbrellas, alms bowls, towels, cups, etc. on the wooden triangular or circle structures called ‘ padetha trees’. Anyone welcome to hang whatever they wish to contribute, a kyat note, or a handkerchief or a soap, no matter if it is small or a little. Some padetha trees are ornamented with new Myanmar currency notes folded into beautiful patterns such as triangles, circles or birds artistically. The people display these wooden structures called “padetha trees” at marketplace, bus-stops or every corner of the country so that everyone can contribute in cash or in kind. They also try to entertain to draw donors with songs, dances, giant puppets and speakers. On the full moon day of Tazaungdaing, people donate these padetha trees to their designated monastery. On the way to designated monasteries, the rows of these padetha trees put on the trishaws or cars can be seen and the people show them around town while playing cheerful music.
Tazaungdaing festival is one of the well-known festivals in Myanmar and its hot-air balloons festival is very famous among locals and tourists. Unfortunately this festival had to be cancelled this year.