Zeedaw could be reached by crossing the Chindwin river at Monywa and, taking Yinmabin road for 22 kilometres through paddy fields. Then leaving the main road, after some distance spent, jumping dykes in a cloud of dust a deserted wilderness is reached. Were it not for the communal excitement, customary at such festivals that transform a dozy hamlet into a fairground then this place would have limited appeal. There reigns a distinct atmosphere caused by the fact that this is the most important gathering of witches imaginable.
Yeyin Kadaw, the queen of witches was the sister of king ToungOo, who, other than his name, is a totally unknown character. She became the minor wife of a Shan Sawbwa. She had formidable powers and both her wishes and curses were equally effective. The other royal wives were afraid of her and managed to convince the king to send his favorite wife into exile. She took Monywa road and established herself at Maung Dong village near Zeedaw where she died and became nat.
Her oldest statue in Burma is at Maung Dong and is no more than 30 centimeters high. She is paid homage at the full moon of Taboung till the 8th day of the waning moon. After the ritual ablutions, she used to be carried on a palanquin to Zeedaw, only a few miles away. This arrangement ended around 1978 as a result of some financial disagreement between two villages.
Zeedaw people therefore produced their own image of Yeyin Kadaw, and on a far larger seals and adhered its back to a wall to protect it from being stolen by vengeful Maung Dong villagers. As a result there are no processions or ablutions. Although Maung Dong temple is controlled by 5 hereditary keepers, Zeedaw one is under the control of local people’s council and runs at a profit. The festival starts at Maung Dong and then moves on to Zeedaw. It is accompanied by much slaughtering as the nat likes raw meat. After it is offered, it is again taking back, cooked and offered a second time.
Dressed in black and carrying two swords, Yeyin Kadaw’s husband performs the ritual dances beofore nat-kadaws and guests. The human witches can only make their offerings when the guests have finished making theirs and have started packing up to go home. The witches often offer Yeyin Kadaw pork which she likes so much. However, nat-kadaw refrain from making such an offering out of respect for the Taungbyon Brothers. By so doing the witches hope to achieve some nat-like powers themselves. Yeyin kadaw, a witch, is pestered to eliminate a rival for a job or a promotion for his patron. According to the orthodox nat-kadaw a favour is only done when the cause is fair and reasonable. Though the request is made during the festival, the sacrifice of an animal in thanks is made after the festival in accordance with the demands of trustees.