Myanmar held several festivals throughout a year. There are twelve monthly Myanmar festivals, the most important ones are the pagoda festivals. Among the twelve monthly festivals, the building of the Sand Pagoda Festival falls in the last month of the Myanmar Calendar, Tabaung. The name of Sand Pagoda derives from the fact that they were originally built with clean white sand on the sand banks of rivers.
Tradition of Sand Pagodas
The tradition of building Sand Pagodas is originated because during Tabaung month, the water levels recedes and the sand banks in the rivers and creeks appear. And as Myanmar people worship Buddhist religion devoutly and the sand banks become the site for building a Sand Pagoda in honor of Buddhism. The building of the temporary pagodas is completed within a day by offering food, lights and flowers for the status of the Sand Pagodas. This festival has been held by kings and citizens since a long time ago.
Origin of Tabaung Festival
Magha Puja is an important Buddhist festival celebrated on the full moon day of Tabaung in Myanmar. It is a public holiday in Myanmar. On this occasion, Buddhists perform merit-making activities at pagodas and temples. This festival is celebrated to show the veneration of Buddha and his teachings on the full moon day.
Full moon day of Tabaung marks the 4 marvelous occansions happening at the Veluvana bamboo grove, near Rajagaha in northern India ten months after the enlightenment of the Buddha. The 4 events occurred are as follows:
- 1,250 disciples came to see the Buddha that evening without being summoned.
- All of them were Arahants, Enlightened Ones, and all were ordained by the Buddha.
- The Buddha gave those Arahants the principles of Buddhism which are not to commit any sin; to do only good; to purify one’s mind.
The celebration in Myanmar is the Shwedagon Pagoda Festival, which is also the country’s largest pagoda festival. The festival begins with a nakyake shitsu ceremony to supply offerings for the 28 Buddhas. It is then followed by a 10-day nonstop recital of the Patthana, Buddhist scriptures on the 24 causes of wordly phenomena.