The Shwedagon Pagoda Festival is a celebration of culture with a buzzing carnival atmosphere and holy Buddhist origins.
When? TBC 2018
Where? Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar.
Forget werewolves and other lunar ghouls; this experience is far more elegant and gentle. Celebrated on the full moon day of Tabaung (usually in March), The Shwedagon Pagoda Festival is an annual celebration of the most sacred Buddhist shrine and at 99 metres it’s the second tallest religious structure in Myanmar. Between 1988 and 2012 the festival was banned by state law but with the opening of Myanmar's borders it's been in full swing for the past four years.
The Shwedagon Pagoda Festival is one of many held throughout Mayanmar where it's commonplace for major Buddhist historic events to be celebrated or otherwise commemorated. Squads of frenzied weavers work saffron cloth and present it to the monks. Offerings of water, candle light and flowers are humbly presented. Do as the pilgrims do and circumnavigate the giant gold stupa in a clockwise direction, you'll pass the Chinese prayer hall, sacred bodhi trees, Buddha's footprint and the Maha Tissada Gandha Bell. Then say a prayer or make a wish at one of the eight planetary posts that correspond to the days of the week - pick the day you were born on (Wednesday is split into a.m. and p.m.). Pilgrims from all over the country arrive to observe these rituals.
You can also expect a carnival atmosphere, with bazaars and entertainment offered within the vicinity of the pagoda area. Candles and incense are lit in the square and thousands of colourful lights make this a truly stunning sight. Take a curry from one of vendors, watch the moon rise and try to spot the 76 carat diamond at the spires peak.
Whether you're just visiting for the carnival vibe or you're hoping to pay your respects at the most sacred Buddhist shrine, the Shwegadon Pagoda Festival will leave you enchanted, thankfully without any howling monsters on the loose.
Get there: Fly to Yangon. It is a half hour drive to the pagoda.
Stay: The Bahan and San Chaung areas are both near to the Shwedagon Pagoda.
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