The Thadingyut Festival of Lights

The Thadingyut is the seventh month of the Myanmar lunar calendar. It is a month which terminates the Buddhist Lent. Generally, Thadingyut coincides with October and celebrate the light festival.

It is the celebration to welcome back the Lord Buddha spent His lent in Tavatimsa(celestial kingdom) to preach His Dhamma to the deities including His defunct mother who had become a deva. When the lent was over in the month of Thidingyut, Buddha returned to the earth. On His descent from Tavatimsa to the earth, His path was illuminated with lights by devas and devis who paid their respect and homage to the Buddha.

The Buddhist devotees at Shwedagon pagoda
Photo by artdesigner geno from Pexels

To commemorate this great religious event, the Buddhists in Myanmar annually hold light festival for three days. Buddhist devotees offer lights, flowers, incense- sticks at pagodas and temples. Houses and dwellings are beautifully illuminated and decorated with colorful paper lanterns. Some people light fireworks or launch small hot-air balloons which ascend and drift to the sky.

A street in Yangon downtown
Photo by Christian Holzinger on Unsplash

In cities, the streets in the downtown are packed with street market fairs featuring food stalls and shops selling handicrafts, toys, and there are many activities with cultural performances in communities. People can also be seen strolling along the streets to enjoy the festivities.Well-wishers offer the food and meals to passers-by and visitors.

Buddhist devotees offer lights at Shwedagon pagoda

Thadingyut is also associated with paying homage not only to Buddha but also to elders including parents and teachers to ask for forgiveness if they had committed any misdeeds throughout the year. Visits are made to parents and elders by the group of young people and children to pay respect and to present the gifts. Traditionally the elders tell back that they forgive and bless the young people with good luck and best wishes. Then the elders give the young people some big notes as pocket money in return.

a girl with the lantern lamps
Photo by U Aung/Xinhua

Thadingyut is the month for lovers as well. Marriage during the Baddish lent (July to Oct) is a religious inhibition for Buddhists. Lovers have to wait till Thadingyut when they are set free to go on a romantic spree.

A child with a lantern lamp
Photo by U Aung/Xinhua

As the festive days are marked as public holidays, highway roads are crowded vehicles and public transports are fully booked as some people travel with their friends and family to popular tourist destinations and some go back to their native town to be together with their family. Therefore, Thadingyut festival is one of the most meaningful festivals in Myanmar. Unfortunately, it is impossible to celebrate the festival and social events of Thadingyut and also to travel in this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. But, houses and dwellings will be illuminated and decorated with lanterns. Whishing a healthy and happy Thadingyut to you all!

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