Myan­mar fire bal­loon fes­ti­val opens

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Taung­gyi, Myan­mar - The gi­gan­tic hot air bal­loon folded into it­self and fell in a ball of flames, scat­ter­ing on­look­ers be­low at the be­gin­ning of Myan­mar’s stun­ning yet treach­er­ous fire bal­loon fes­ti­val.

No­body was hurt this time but ev­ery year sev­eral are in­jured at the event in Shan State’s cap­i­tal Taung­gyi, a high­light of the an­nual Taza­ung­daing fes­ti­val of light that marks the end of the rainy sea­son.

The cel­e­bra­tion is rooted in Bud­dhism and draws tens of thou­sands each day.

It has be­come a ‘fes­ti­val for the whole of Burma’, com­pe­ti­tion judge Thein Zaw (54) said in be­tween bal­loon in­spec­tions.

Af­ter months spent work­ing on their de­signs, com­pet­ing teams launch - or try to launch - some 200 home­made de­vices over the course of the ten-day fes­ti­val.

They are weighed down with frames car­ry­ing hundreds of fire­works or can­dles, and a mis­cal­cu­la­tion on when to light the rock­ets can re­sult in a fiery catas­tro­phe. Points are scored for aes­thet­ics, team­work, height reached, and the du­ra­tion of time spent in the air, ex­plained Thein Zaw, who has been on the judges panel for 13 years.

On Mon­day, the com­pe­ti­tion be­gan af­ter a danc­ing dis­play by many of Shan’s eth­nic groups and the re­lease into the night sky of hundreds of tra­di­tional lanterns. “I’ve been com­ing to this event ev­ery year since I was a kid,” said Thuzar Lin (26) af­ter a kalei­do­scopic shower of fire­works from her group’s cre­ation rained on on­look­ers.


A hot-air bal­loon in the sky dur­ing the Taza­ung­daing Light­ing Fes­ti­val at Taung­gyi in Myan­mar’s Shan State on Mon­day

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