Thadingyut Festival of Lights is a three day celebration to mark the end of Buddhist lent. Expect brightly lit Pagodas and wonderfully lit houses.
Lights, camera, action! In Hollywood it's the latter that gets all the attention but in Myanmar it's the former. The Thadingyut Festival of Lights is celebrated slightly differently all over Myanmar, and marks a religious celebration using lights. In Yangon, pilgrims flock to the Shwedagon Pagoda with candles and honour Buddha.
The festival is primarily a celebration of light. Fireworks erupt in the night sky whilst lanterns, candles and small electric lights take care of the ground. You might even see the occasional hot-air balloon.
Street fairs are commonplace in the celebration. Try Bogyoke Aung San Road in downtown Yangon for some of the best food stalls. Stick around for zat-pwe, all night performances that combine melodrama, slapstick, dance and pop music. Expect regular street vendors selling everything from watches and sunglasses to jeans and clothing from China. This area is also home to a funfair, which sees the usual ring-toss and knock-down can games alongside Ferris wheels which are manually operated by acrobatic carnies. Stands throughout 50th Street show cartoons, carrying on a tradition started by artist U Ba Gyan before his death in 1953.
Young people tend to give gifts to parents and elders to give thanks and it's common to hand out satuditha (food donations) to friends, family and even strangers during this time. If a stranger does offer you food, accept it gracefully.
If free food and serenely lit streets aren't enough to get you excited about the festival of lights, we're not sure we can convince you but we reckon it'll be more fun than a trip to your local Odeon.
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