“Thadingyut is on seven-month full moon day of Burmese calendar and the end of lent. Three days of lights festival overtake Burma, namely the day before full moon. the full moon day and the day after. Illuminations are there to celebrate the anniversary of Buddha’s return from the celestial abode where He had spent the lent teaching the celestials about His Law. Buddhist on earth illuminated the homes and streets to welcome Buddha and His disciples.” Many sources on the net has this same explanation and that is how I understood this festival to be.
As a child, I was fascinated by this festival because we lit up candles and oil lanterns (C Mee Gwet), there were lots of Pwea (performances on stages), respect to elders which meant montepho (snack money) when we ask for forgiveness for wrongs we have done as children. Most of all it was a time for family gatherings, making merit at Shwedagon Paya and seeing the entire city, every home, every storefront, every temple lit up by candles and lanterns. It was magical. Yee Ping in Chiang Mai reminds me of Thadingyut (and Tazaungdine) in Burma.
Of course, as a Mum, I want M to learn about the Burmese Buddhist culture as much as I can possibly teach her. Though it is not anywhere close to the way we celebrated in Burma when I was a child, tonight, we took the time to go to the temple, lit candles and paid respect.
Tonight, I prayed that by next year, we shall, as a family, be blessed with the opportunity to be in Burma to celebrate Thadingyut festival. I want to see the lights again and I want my little family to see and experience it too. It will be our first time as a family and my first time back to celebrate this festival after 33 years of leaving it.
We also asked for world peace and the well-being of all living beings.