Myitmakha News Agency
Pyay, March 24 – in a bid to keep traditional customs alive, villagers from the surrounding area to the Shwe Nat Taung pagoda festival, located in the western Bago Region township of Shwetaung, have arrived en-masse with there cattle drawn carts, with the number of cattle carts in attendance totaling over one thousand.
The aforementioned pagoda festival runs from March 16 to the full moon day on the 24, with all villagers from surrounding villages arriving on cattle drawn carts to take part in the celebrations, a historic custom still practiced to this day.
“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 on 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 once the festival is over.” said a festival goer from Thayetdaw village.
The Shwe Nat Taung pagoda festival is the only one of its kind in Myanmar in which people arrive by carts and parade around on them during festival celebrations. As well as villages from within Shwetaung township, cattle driven carts from over thirty villages along the Ayeyarwaddy river also made the journey to the festival, it is known.
“Of course, in these changing times, people also arrive by motorcycle or van. The majority though still arrive on their 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 once in a year trip.” said cart owner U Maung Gyi.
This year marks the 178th time the Shwe Nat Taung pagoda festival has been celebrated. Over 700 erected stalls and shops, selling farming and kitchen equipment, clothes and snacks for children, lined the northern entrance of the pagoda all the way to the eastern side of Mayarman village, while customary theatrical performances and cattle races were key features of the celebrations.