August 19, 2016

Over 1,000 cattle-drawn carts descend on Shwe Nat Taung Pagoda Festival

Ox-carts arriving at pagoda festival. Photo: Myitmakha News Agency
Ox-carts arriving at pagoda festival. Photo: Myitmakha News Agency

IN an effort to keep traditional customs alive, villagers in the area of the Shwe Nat Taung Pagoda Festival, located in the western Bago Region township of Shwetaung, have arrived en-masse with cattle drawn carts, with the number of carts in attendance totalling over 1,000. The pagoda festival runs from 16 to 24 March.
“When a whole village comes to the festival, they bring about 100 carts with them. Our village, however, has brought about 200 carts with us. People come in family groups, piling everything they’re going to need onto the cart: tarpaulin, cooking equipment, food and hay for the cattle. On arrival to the pagoda festival, villages set up their camps, sleeping and eating on their carts, before returning home once the festival is over,” said a festival attendee from Thayettaw Village. The Shwe Nat Taung Pagoda Festival is the only one of its kind in Myanmar in which people arrive by cattle cart and parade on them during the festival. In addition to the villages in Shwetaung Township, cattle-driven carts from over 30 villages along the Ayeyawady River also made the journey to the festival.
“Of course, in these changing times, people also arrive by motorcycle or van. However, the majority still arrives on carts. Flooding this year has affected crop production, so people have had to tighten their purse strings somewhat compared with previous years. But it hasn’t stopped villagers from making this annual trip,” said cart-owner U Maung Gyi. This year marks the 178th Shwe Nat Taung Pagoda Festival. Over 700 stalls and shops, selling farming and kitchen equipment, clothes and snacks lined the northern entrance of the pagoda, reaching all the way to the eastern side of Mayarman Village. Traditional theatrical performances and cattle races were key features of the celebrations.—Myitmakha News Agency


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