Experience one of Mandalay's most important festivals, the Mahamuni Pagoda festival, which sees thousands from across the country gather to worship the sacred Gautama Buddha statue.
- Why? One of Mandalay's most important cultural festivals.
- When? 28 Jan - 11 Feb 2017
- Where? Mahamuni Buddhist Temple, Mandalay, Myanmar.
- Price: Free
- Get there: Fly to Mandalay.
- Stay: The Mandalay City Hotel offers an outdoor pool and views of the city.
You can never have too much gold, right? We’d all love a few extra pieces of jewellery to add to our collection, but the Mahamuni Buddha in Mandalay suggests otherwise. Adorned in 15cm of pure gold, the statue is now a mass of golden blobs. So, it seems there is such thing as too much gold. Despite this, the Mahamuni Buddha is an iconic part of Mandalay life, particularly during the pagoda’s annual festival.
Mahamuni Pagoda Festival is one of the busiest in Mandalay, with families from around the region making the journey to the temple to celebrate its history and re-connect with each other. At over 200 years old, the pagoda is an icon of Hindu culture as it is believed to be one of few temples made when Gautama Buddha was alive. Built in 1785 by King Bodawpaya at the time of the Arakan Kingdom, the temple continues to be a symbol of the Buddhist faith, with thousands of devotees gathering at its door during the festival.
The two-day event, held on the full moon day of Thabodwe, is sure to give you a true taste of Myanmar culture, beginning with a reading of an ancient philosophical Buddhist text by local monks. ‘The Book of Conditional Relations’ actually takes two days of non-stop recitation to complete, a task that is considered an honour for Buddhist monks.
After catching a glimpse of this fascinating ritual (you probably won’t want to listen for the full two days), you’ll be able to enjoy an evening of traditional dancing, music and plays. There might also be the chance to sample the local cuisine, as ginger, coconut and sesame infused rice is cooked on the terraces of the temple for the monks and elsewhere in smaller communities as part of the festivities.
Large amounts of incense are burnt the following morning, on the 15th day of the full moon, to offer heat to the Mahamuni Buddha inside the temple, alongside the bonfires lit across the course of the festival.
If you’re planning on visiting the temple, be sure to keep your shoulders and knees covered to respect the countries religious rules. Flagging down a rickshaw or taxi is the easiest way to reach the pagoda, especially if you’ve booked a hotel nearby.
Go easy on the gold, or you might be mistaken for the Buddha.
*We do our very best to verify the dates of our events but please check with the official event provider before booking your flights. We would hate for you to be disappointed!