Thadingyut – Festival of Lights

Thadingyut

This year (2018), the Thadingyut falls on 24 October (coinciding with the United Nations Day).  This is the second most popular festival after Thingyan (New Year Water Festival).

Thadingyut, the seventh month of the Myanmar calendar, is the end of the Buddhist Lent. The seventh month usually coincides with October in the Gregorian calendar.  It is believed that Buddha went to Tavatimsa (heaven) and spent the three-month period teaching the sacred Abhidhamma to the heavenly beings. On the full moon day of Thadingyut – which is still known as Abhidhamma Day – Buddha descended back to the human realm with the procession which included a host of nats (deva) and Brahmas.

Thadingyut festival last for three days: the day before the full moon day, the full moon day and the day after the full moon day.  Buddhists celebrate Thadingyut (as called in Myanmar) to welcome the Buddha and his disciples by enlightening and festooning the streets, houses and public buildings with colored electric bulbs or candles.

During Thadingyut Festival, there are Zat Pwes (Myanmar musical plays), free movie shows and stage shows on most of the streets around the country. There are stalls and shops selling a variety of traditional foods, toys, kitchen utensils and other useful stuff.  Some people like to play with firecrackers and fire balloons.  Buddhists usually go to pagodas and monasteries to pay respect to the monks and offer alms, candle lights, joss sticks, flowers, and fruits. And some Buddhists usually fast on the full moon day.

Thadingyut is not only a season of festival and rejoicing but also a time for remembering those to whom we owe respect and gratitude. There is also the practice of paying respects to parents, teachers and elderly relatives. The elders usually return the act of goodwill by wishing to be healthy, wealthy and safe from dangers and giving pocket-money and snacks to the young people.  Also while paying homage the younger people usually ask for forgiveness from the sins they have caused upon their parents or the other elderly relatives throughout the year. Traditionally the elders tell their youngsters that they forgive any of their wrongdoings and continue to bless them with good luck and gift some big notes as pocket money. It is also usual for younger siblings to pay homage to their older siblings.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thadingyut_Festival, last accessed on 22 September 2016.

http://yelwinoo.com/festivals-events/thadingyut-lighting-festival.html, last accessed on 22 September 2016.

http://word.myanmarupperland.com/tourism-news/full-moon-day-of-thadingyut-lighting-festival2012/, last accessed on 22 September 2016.