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Myanmar Ethnic Festivals

Each of the ethnic groups in Myanmar has its own festivals. Of these, the better known ones are Kayin New Year, the Kachin Manao festival, Naga festival, and the Pa-O rocket-firing festival.

Kayin New Year

It is celebrated on the new-moon day of the lunar month, Pya-tho, and is a national holiday. In Yangon, The Kayin gather at communal centers, and Don dances are performed by Kayin girls and boys wearing the Kayin dress. In Pa-an, capital of Kayin State (Karen State), the Don is performed with great ceremony. Frog drums and buffalo horns are played.

Kachin Manao Festival

The Kachin celebrate a victory or a prosperous period, or mark the illness or death of parents or the moving away of a family member with a Manao festival.

The Manao involves great expense since there are many guests. Only chieftains (duwa) are capable of bearing the expense; one such festival involved the slaughtering of 14 buffaloes, 20 cows, 20 pigs, and 50 chickens, and 200 baskets of rice and 4,500 bottles of spirits. A large shelter, decorated with a huge pair of buffalo horns, is built with four manao poles in the center; drinking, eating, and dancing take place here.

Pa-O Festival

This festival is celebrated by the Pa-O people who live in southern Shan State. During this festival, lengths of large bamboo poles or metal shells are filled with gunpowder, fuses are attached, and the rockets are fired from a 20 to 30-foot-high rocket stand. This festival is celebrated from Tagu to Waso, the first four months of Myanmar year, as an offering to the gods for a favorable climate, good harvest, and prosperous and peaceful new year.

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