The Nat Festival – Bagan, Myanmar 9 February 2005

// Part 3 of 8 //

Again, as for the previous festival, it’s pure luck that allowed us to witness today’s celebration. We were on our way to Mont Popa, when we noticed that some activity was being held in the village’s temple: the Nat festival.

The Nats are spirits worshipped in Myanmar in conjunction with Buddhism. Almost all of the 37 Nats were human beings who met violent deaths.

Never to miss this kind of opportunity, we asked for the bus to stop and made our way  inside the pagoda.

A quick scanning of the offerings: fruits platters with an abundance of liquor bottles. In fact, the Nat U Min Gyaw lacked the desire and the will to combat two vices frowned upon in Buddhist teachings: alcohol and gambling. This annual festival offers a legitimate excuse to indulge, and apparently people don’t let this occasion pass without maximizing on the opportunity.


We were early, the only audience. It wasn’t long before we realized that the graceful dancer performing in front of the row of colorful Nat statues was in fact a man. He was wearing a long shiny embroidered dress with a train and heavy make up.

He invited us to follow him into his changing room…more like the backstage of a theater than a temple

His colleagues were getting ready …

Even though we interrupted the rehearsals, we were granted a warm welcome, big smiles then were offered laminated “business cards” and stamped paper money which they promised will bring us luck.

Our guide explained that the tips we offered will be stamped and recycled to other guests as “good luck charms”.

I still have them in my album, my lucky charms.

4 thoughts on “The Nat Festival – Bagan, Myanmar 9 February 2005”

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