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Kachin State Fair

Listed under Festivals in Burma.

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A few days into my stay, the real reason for my visit began: the annual Kachin State Fair, or Manau. Coinciding with the Kachin State Day on January 10, the festival has been celebrated with increased tension in recent years (and given recent events it is unclear whether this year’s festival will be accessible).

For those initial days in January, hundreds of thousands of Kachin from around the world congregated in tiny Myitkyina, a twenty minute tuk-tuk ride outside town. We were perhaps a dozen tourists (at most) and a few photographers, the scene amusingly one of reverse fishbowl-ism. First, professional Kachin or Burmese photographers would ask us to pose with local families. Then, at the end of the afternoon they could go to a photo booth to buy the picture with their token tourist in it. A fun addition to the noise and chaos of the fair.

At the center of the sprawling circular fairground were the manau poles, decorated with traditional Kachin symbols and covered in colourful flags. Radiating outward from the poles were circles of vendors and stands from sponsors like Myanmar Rum, as well as two separate stages at the far ends of the festival. Encircling them was a ring road  packed with goodies: tiny tables piled high with fresh herbs for soup, sticky rice and bean wrapped in banana leaf and grilled on the fire, corn fritters and samosas, each a perfect afternoon snack.

Throughout the day, groups of Kachin would surround the poles in celebration, showing off their traditional costumes and winding tighter and tighter toward the poles as more people joined the fun.

Continue reading on legalnomads.

Written by  Jodi Ettenberg.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

The annual Kachin state festival, in the Burmese capital Myitkyina is a fairly big deal.

The annual Kachin state festival, in the Burmese capital Myitkyina is a fairly big deal with many villagers coming from the hills representing all the various strands of the kachin peoples. There is much parading of costumes etc, lots of traditional Burmese dancing as well as a few modern bands. There was also a fairground, with hand propelled ferris wheel, magic show, fairground games etc.

I flew from Mandalay and was going to get a boat back down the Irrawaddy river but the water was too low, this would be a great trip to do (as seen, similarly, in Orwell and Norman Lewis).

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