January is the best time to take Burma tours when the temperature seems to become a bit higher than the previous month and the dry climate continues throughout this month. This is also the time for famous festivals of ethnic groups and pagodas in Myanmar.
Ananda Pagoda Festival
Time: from full moon day to the end of Pyatho month
Duration: 15 days
Location: Ancient Bagan
Meaning: The festival is held for social gathering, reunification, propagation, and perpetuation of Buddhism.
This is one of the most famous festivals in Bagan – one of the most attractive and richest archaeological sites in Asia. This festival is believed to have originated from the first period of the Bagan kingdom. Throughout history, people from the villages around Bagan usually came to the festival by ox-cart and set up camp during the festival. So far, some people still use this traditional way to get to festivals.
Many entertainment performances are shown by local theatrical troupes. During the festival, there will be vendors or stores selling traditional Myanmar items and foodstuff. The most interesting aspect of this festival is 1000 monks perform continuous chanting of scriptures for 72 hours. The monks make their way between the donors lined up on both sides and local people reverently place their donations in the monk’s hands. Travelers can enjoy the traditional lifestyle of local people during the festival.
New Year Festival of the Kachin (Manaw)
Time: the first week of January
Duration: one day
Location: Myitkyina, Kachin State
Meaning: Originally, the festival of the Kachin is the celebration of the New Year.
The Kachin, one of the main ethnic groups of Myanmar celebrates their new year festival with a lot of people both local Kachin and abroad Kachin from other countries in the world back to Myanmar on this occasion to meet and dance each other in the festival. The performances of Manaw dance in the festival derived from worship rituals to the gods from the ancient period. The outstanding feature of the festival is the traditional Manaw poles, decorated in colorful Kachin motifs and placed in the middle of the festival ground. Participants in the festival wear their best traditional costume and dance around the erected Manaw poles, quite similar to the totem poles of North American Indians.
New Year Festival of the Naga
Time: Usually from 14 to 16 January
Duration: 3 days
Location: lahe and Layshi, Sagaing
Meanings: The meaning of the festival is anticipatory of good health, wealth, happiness, good climate and good crops for the coming New Year.
The New Year Festival of the Naga is one of the few special festivals in Myanmar. The Naga tribes have more than 49 costumes and their own languages. The Naga often gather together to organize New Year in January.
During the festival, hundreds of tourists and local people take part in activities and exchange gifts with each other. Participants will have chances to dance and be served with Naga traditional food and rice wine.
Dancer’s costumes are decorated with hornbill’s feathers and plumes, elephant tusks, tigers, bears and boar’s canines and paws, buffalo horns, shell, horse and goat’s tails. Moreover, they wear silver and bronze beads, bangles, bracelets, pendants, and eardrops. Red, black and green is dominant colors of customs in the festival.