Let the fes­ti­val be­gin

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - PHYO WAI KYAW – Trans­la­tion by Thiri Min Htun

GET your party hats ready – it’s fes­ti­val time.

For­eign­ers and lo­cals alike are stream­ing into Man­dalay Re­gion for the Taung Py­one Nat Fes­ti­val, a once-ayear chance to see Myan­mar’s mys­ti­cal nat medi­ums. Start­ing today, Taung Py­one Gyi vil­lage in Ma­daya town­ship will teem with tourists and pil­grims for eight days.

U Myint Ko Oo, a mem­ber of the Taung Py­one Pagoda trustee board, said the most crowded day is ex­pected to be Au­gust 14.

“This year, Au­gust 14 is the day when the two Taung Py­one broth­ers’ [im­ages] will have their shower,” he told The Myan­mar Times on Au­gust 10. “Af­ter that bathing cer­e­mony, hun­dreds of other small nat shrines will be­gin to play nat music.”

Today and to­mor­row, be­liev­ers will come to wor­ship stat­ues of the two nat broth­ers. Those seek­ing to make merit or se­cure spir­i­tual bless­ings also do­nate food and money.

Then on the third day, the nats are be­lieved to hold a night con­fer­ence, fol­lowed by the afore­men­tioned bathing of the two stat­ues on the fourth day. On Au­gust 15, the fifth day, devo­tees will hold the cer­e­mony that re­quires spirit medi­ums – of­ten men and women dressed in drag and wear­ing make-up – to dance be­fore the two nat broth­ers as an of­fer­ing. Then there’s a day for hunt­ing rab­bits fol­lowed by a day of cut­ting the htein trees. On the last day, which will be Au­gust 18, fes­ti­val-go­ers gild the stat­ues of the two broth­ers and change their clothes and tur­bans.

Ac­cord­ing to the pagoda trustee board, more than 800 stalls have set up for the event, in­clud­ing the­atres, dis­play rooms for health and other fun ac­tiv­i­ties. Stalls sell­ing lo­cal food such as kayayka­yar, anu­sote and

khaw­pyin have also popped up. Dur­ing the fes­ti­val, Myan­mar Rail­way will run special trains from Thaye Zay sta­tion in Man­dalay to Ma­daya sta­tion, in­clud­ing a reg­u­lar train.

Though it nor­mally takes about 45 min­utes to drive from Man­dalay to Taung Py­one vil­lage by car or mo­tor­cy­cle, ex­pect traf­fic to worsen dur­ing the fes­ti­val.

Photo: Si Thu Lwin

Scenes from the fes­ti­val de­pict the ex­cite­ment gen­er­ated by nats and their me­dia.

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