By Noe Noe Aung
Festival of Lights in English is held on the full moon day of Myanmar Lunar month of Thadingyut, the seventh month of Myanmar calendar.Thadingyut is a custom festival which is held at the end of three-month-long Buddhist Lent. It is also a celebration to welcome The Buddha who comes back from the heaven after preaching the Abhidamma to His mother. This is why Thadingyut full moon day is still known as Abhidamma Day. Three months of Lent is like a special period for meditation and religious things. As a custom, weddings are not held during Lent as well as music concerts or other fun-related celebrations and public performance are not much acceptable according to the traditionally religious belief.
Thadingyut full moon day marks the end of Buddhist Lent which is on October 5 this year. The festival is held for three days nationwide. Schools close for ten days. People decorate houses, trees and streets with colorful electric lights, candles and lanterns to welcome The Buddha’s descending and it is also a time to make fun-fairs or public performances. During this time, there are Zat Pwes [traditional fine arts opera-like shows], free movie shows and small concerts in the country areas. In Yangon, Yay Kyaw Thadingyut festival in Pazundaung Township is famous.
The festival area is crowded with food stalls -- traditional food and snack shops – and shops of toys, clothes, domestic things and other useful things. Children play with fire crackers and other traditional ways related with fire. During the festival days, Buddhists usually go to pagodas and monasteries to pay respect to the monks and offer food.