Mount Popa Festival with spirits dancing
This popular Traditional Nat Festival is so crowd due festival days its location between Matara Township and Mandalay. The most famous in Upper Myanmar an hour drive from Mandalay. It lasts five days and every day has special programs. Festival where especially youngsters are merry and enjoy drinking and where people of all ages can join in the Nat dance. Tens of thousands are gathering in Taung Pyone (Taung Byone) near Mandalay to celebrate the annual nat pwe (festival for spirits). The week-long festival starts this week with as many as 100,000 believers gathering to celebrate in the grand festival for the nats (spirits). There are a number of nat pwes (spirit festivals) in Myanmar. Of these, Taung Pyone is the largest and the most important festival of all. This festival is to commemorate the fable of the two nat brothers Min Gyi and Min Lay, also known as Shwe Byin Nyi Naung (Shwe Phyin Nyi Naung or Shwe Byin Brothers). These two brothers were the heroes during the time of Bagan King Anawrahta. According to the legend, these two were drunk on their night of their duty to pagoda. This was found out by the king and were ordered to be executed. However, they were later proclaimed as nats by King Anawrahta, possibly due to their popularity among the ordinary citizens. Since that time, these two brothers had been worshiped by millions of believers all over Burma. Ceremony is guided by the traditional spirit mediums (called nat-ka-daw or wife of nat) who are almost always transvestites. Participants in the festival believe the two brothers have power to grant richness and wealth to their followers. Many make pilgrimage to pay respect to the nats as well as to ask for fortune and favour from the nats.