Lights, crowds, ac­tion!

Yae Kyaw Thad­ingyut Fes­ti­val

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - NYO ME

OUR Fes­ti­val of Lights cel­e­brates the de­scent of the Bud­dha from heaven, after preach­ing Ab­hid­hamma to his mother, Maya. And we pay re­spects to our el­ders, apol­o­gis­ing for any sins on our part. But that isn’t go­ing to stop us hav­ing fun.

So light the can­dles and lanterns, set off the fire­works and fire­crack­ers, and en­joy your­self. The heart of Thad­ingyut in Yan­gon is the Yae Kyaw fes­ti­val. How else to ex­plain the crowds?

I never miss the chance to eat var­i­ous kinds of tra­di­tional foods and toys, to join the throngs in the amuse­ment park and fight to the front of the crowd (no queues, please, we’re Myan­mar) to clam­ber onto the hu­man-pow­ered Fer­ris wheel and the pen­du­lum boat.

The Yae Kyaw fes­ti­val takes place from Oc­to­ber 13 to 17 along Yae Kyaw and Bo­gyoke streets in Pazun­daung town­ship.

“This fes­ti­val has been held for more than 50 years, ex­cept be­tween 2002 and 2010. It all started from Witt Kyaung, Daw Na and Yuzana streets in quar­ter 8 of Pazun­daung with three small stages of make-up artists in the first two years,” said U Aung Naing, 56, one of the or­gan­is­ers of the fes­ti­val.

“Then, tableaus of tra­di­tional char­ac­ters dressed as Zaw Gyi, kings and royal min­is­ters could stand for an hour, mo­tion­less, in each tent in these two quar­ters,” he said, “At that time, I was a child and I would tickle the per­form­ers, but they didn’t move. No­body can do that now. Later, the fes­ti­val grew big­ger and big­ger and more and more crowded.” In­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors also love Thad­ingyut. “I had to lift up my longyi to get on the Fer­ris wheel,” said Marc from Eng­land. “I vis­ited the fes­ti­val when I was here four years ago, and I came back be­cause I didn’t want to miss out. It’s so high-en­ergy, full-on mad, nuts, crazy and I love it. I’ve just been walk­ing around, sam­pling food from the dif­fer­ent stores.”

An­other mer­ry­maker, Aye Nyein Khaing, 21, said, “I come here al­most ev­ery year be­cause it’s the only place in Yan­gon where the tra­di­tion of Thad­ingyut is still ob­served. Else­where in Yan­gon Re­gion, it’s dis­ap­pear­ing. In some places, the only sign of Thad­ingyut is the lights peo­ple put in front of their houses. So the Yae Kyaw Thad­ingyut fes­ti­val is very im­por­tant for me.”

Or­gan­iser U Aung Naing said, “Last year, three of the town­ship’s quar­ters cel­e­brated the fes­ti­val; this year it’s five in Bo­tah­taung. The crowds are even big­ger. We had to put up CCTVs for se­cu­rity.”

The Fes­ti­val of Lights is cel­e­brated on the full moon day of the lu­nar month of Thad­ingyut. The best time to come is around 5pm as crowds gen­er­ally swell from 6pm to mid­night.

Thrill seek­ers dare to ride the swing­ing pen­du­lum at Yae Kyaw’s Thad­ingyut Fes­ti­val on Oc­to­ber 15.

Pho­tos: Nyo Me

Ev­ery year Yae Kyaw’s Thad­ingyut fes­ti­val draws thou­sands.

A woman pours bat­ter into the fryer for crispy, late-night treats.

U Myint Lwin and his grand­daugh­ter from Bago city show off a Burmese python.

Young men en­tice fes­ti­val-go­ers to take a ride on the man-pow­ered Fer­ris wheel.

A young man aims his rub­ber band sling­shot at his tar­get.

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