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Subdued celebrations as Myanmar marks the end of the Buddhist Lent

Author: Theodore Koumelis / Date: Wed, 10/28/2020 - 07:47
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This year, everything is different. Measures to reduce the number of infections of Covid-19 has led to the Yay Kyaw Festival being cancelled. All over the country the celebration of Thandingyut will be more sober.

The Sabbath period for Buddhists which last 3 months ends in Myanmar with the festival of “Thadingyut”. It is also known as the “Lighting Festival” as all around the country people light up candles and oil lamps at houses and temples. Lanterns are made into the shape of mythical animals and names of loved ones written on candles.

Thadingyut marks the start of Myanmar’s Festival Season: people are getting married, new businesses are founded and the temple fairs open shop. The traditional Yay Kyaw fair in Yangon is one of the famous to start during Thandingyut. The townships of Pazaungdain is taken over with food stalls, pop-up shops and traditional tattoo parlours. There are man-powered Ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds and performances of dance and slapstick comedy run late into the night.

Celebrating Covid-19 style
This year, everything is different. Measures to reduce the number of infections of Covid-19 has led to the Yay Kyaw Festival being cancelled. All over the country the celebration of Thandingyut will be more sober.

“I always visit the festival with my friends,” comments 23 years old Aung Kyaw Oo from Yangon. “But this year I simply stay home and spend more time on the candle light decoration on my balcony”.

Tourism sector
Normally Thadingyut also signals the start of the tourism high season. Not so this year with the arrival of commercial flights into Myanmar and the issuance of tourist-visas suspended since March. In recent days international newspapers have been reporting on the economic effects of Covid-19 on different industries in Myanmar. Unsurprisingly tourism is one of the hardest hit industries.

The economic effects on this outbreak are disastrous”, says one hotelier who wished to remain anonymous. “I had to fire all my staff although it broke my heart as I know many of them were the sole breadwinner of their family.”

Other festivals
This is also the season of other famous and colourful Myanmar festivals like the boat racing competitions at Inle Lake during the Phaung Daw Oo Festival and the Dancing Elephant Festival in Kyaukse – not real elephants but papier-mache costumes worn by 2 men. The Fire Balloon Festivals held yearly in Taunggyi and Pyin Oo Lwin are also spectacular.
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Theodore Koumelis

Co-Founder & Managing Director

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.