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Kachin State


Manaw Festival

Manaw is the colorful festival of the Kachin people who live in northern Myanmar. Traditionally Manaw was a Nat Festival, honoring guardian spirits, and the Padain Nat is believed to be the protector and benefactor of the Kachin. There are many versions of Manaw: a version to celebrate the New Year, other versions to celebrate victory in battle, house-warmings, and so on. In earlier times it was a festival for the Duwars, or tribal chieftains, but now it is the victory festival for all of Kachin State.

A big Manaw Festival is usually held on Kachin State Day, 10 January, in the state capital, Myitkyina, to usher in the New Year and to celebrate prosperity and abundance. Traditional Manaw poles, decorated with Kachin motifs, and are placed in the center of the Manaw grounds.

A line of elaborately dressed dancers, led by shamans, approach the Manaw poles to the sound of brass gongs. As is usual for all mountain people, the dance is communal and everybody lines up behind the leaders. The dance is a show of gratitude to their ancestral spirits and their wish for brighter future. Although most Kachin are now Christians, they are still proud of their ancestral traditions.

Inn Dawgyi

Inndawgyi, Myanmar's biggest natural lake, is situated in the Moegaung area in the Myitkyina district of the Kachin State. The lake is 16 miles long (north-south) and 7 miles wide (east-west,) with a total lake area of is 80 sq. miles. Every year in March, the festival of the Shwe-Myintzu Pagoda, built during the Konebaung era, is held from the 8 th waxing day to the 1st waning day of Tabaung.

An intriguing fact is that two sandbanks are washed up by the waves before the festival begins so that people can walk from the bank to the pagoda. People believe that one sandbank is for human use and the other is for the Nats (spirits and celestials). The two sandbanks disappear into the lake shortly after the festival.