Taung Pyone Nat (Spirit) Festival
In Myanmar, the belief in Nat (Spirit) is one of the most important parts of the culture. If you get to Taung Pyone by Chance but you are not actually a Nat believer, circus and cultural dances, music and magic shows, fortunetellers and tattoo shops will entertain you at any time. Another awesome thing that you will be amazed plenty of crowded shops with local food and accessories from souvenir shops stroll through passing and flocking among different types of people. You wonder about how the locals’ lives during the festival time. The small road to festival area becomes lively with a lot of traffic jam. Young and old people on roadsides are busy asking for money from vehicles.
If you are around Mandalay during August, I recommend you to attend this festival. I am sure it will be an unforgettable memory.
Taung Pyone village is known among Myanmar people because of Taung Pyone Festival, which is the most famous festival of Nats (spirits) in the country celebrated annually in July and August according to Myanmar calendar from Warkhaung La san 1 day to Warkhaung La Pyae Kyaw 1 day. This year it falls on August 1 – 15. The village itself is a pleasant place to be. The beautiful landscape opens the view on mountains covered with palm trees.
During the era of King Anawratha, on one occasion the king camped around that Taung Pyone area and would like to donate a land mark pagoda there and ordered the army to contribute their personal labour individual regardless of ranks and positions in the construction of pagoda. However In the King’s Army, there were two young generals named Shwe Phyin Gyi and Shwe Phyin Lay who were adopted sons of the King and were believed to posess tremendous power in physical that is invisible were very popular among others. As youngsters, they enjoy drinking and gambling all the time and missed to obey the King’s order to contribute their parts which became an opportunity for the jealous ministers to make a plot by not placing the two bricks that were supposed to be done by the two generals. So the two bricks were missing after completion of the pagoda (The space for the missing bricks is still there). When the King found out space without bricks as a sign of treasonous act, he ordered to execute the two heroes and since then they became Nats (Spirits), and the King deified them as the guardian spirits of the area. They are the most popular among the 37 Nats deified by the people.
In this festival, tens and thousands of mediums and worshippers come together to worship Nats (spirits) and enjoy themselves with the blessings of the spirits every year. The usually quiet village of Taung Payone becomes very crowded for the time of the festival with all the visitors coming to join the celebrations by car, train or on foot. They pray for prosperity, fame and luck for the next coming year. This is the festival where people are allowed to make fun of each other but not allowed to get angry or take the joke as serious for all visitors are expected to smile with joy and fun. The Myanmar still worship them vigorously and believe that the Nats can bring luck and prosperity to the worshippers and can also bring danger to those who do not respect them. The word "Nat" is unclear. It may be derive from the Hindu Natha which means lord, savior or protector.
People also believe those Nats guard their richness and protect the entire dangerous situation because they are influenced the good or bad images of them. The music, song and dance of Nats is stood separately in Myanmar Traditional music because the music is emotional. Someone who hears this music and song, his nervous are stimulated and he will dance happily. Dressed in silks and stings, and made up as if for traditional dance performance, spirit mediums dance while being possessed, and the spirit in them ‘eats’ the food offered by smelling, although with drinks such as whisky they can drink up the whole bottle in several swallows without the medium getting drunk. A traditional orchestra of a drum circle, oboe, cymbals, brass gongs and the big drum accompanies the dances with music especially composed for the spirits. Mediums dance and sing while cash notes are pined to the medium’s jacket by the donors and more tossed to the musicians and spectators. The Nat superstitious people believe that if they fail to go to the celebration, good luck will not become the whole year. Therefore Taung Pyone celebration is more crowded year to year.
The whole area is occupied with circus and cultural dances, music and magic shows, fortunetellers and tattoo shops. August is a good time for travelers who want to explore magnificent landscape and enjoy Taung Pyone Festival in Myanmar. If you can have a visit to Myanmar to learn about new cultures and to have extraordinary experience, we recommend that you should visit to this special Taung Pyone Festival.