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FLOATING FESTIVAL. Intha ethnic people row on a long boat in a procession carrying Buddha images to a monastery during the pagoda festival in Inle Lake, southern Shan state, Myanmar, on October 19, 2023. One of the most colorful festivals in the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar, the pagoda festival involves scores of rowed boats and a spectacular gold-gilded barge. The celebration took place last month after a three-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic and violent political instability. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)
PAGODA FESTIVAL. A large boat carries Buddha images, left photo, during pagoda festival tours across Inle Lake in southern Shan state, Myanmar. In the right photo, local people sit in their boat watching the movement of Buddha images during the pagoda festival. Inle Lake, located about 260 miles northeast of Yangon, is the country’s second largest freshwater lake and a popular tourist attraction. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)
Local people sit in their boat watching Buddha images being carried to a monastery during the pagoda festival at Inle Lake, southern Shan state, Myanmar. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)
Local people watch from their house the carrying of Buddha images to a monastery during the pagoda festival at Inle Lake, southern Shan state, Myanmar. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)
From The Asian Reporter, V33, #11 (November 6, 2023), pages 1 & 3.
Spectacular Myanmar lake festival resumes after three years
INLE LAKE, Myanmar (AP) — One of the most colorful festivals in the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar, involving scores of rowed boats and a spectacular gold-gilded barge, was celebrated this year after a three-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic and violent political instability.
The venue is Inle Lake in southern Shan state, about 260 miles northeast of Yangon. Inle, the country’s second largest freshwater lake and a popular tourist attraction year-round, is famous for its fishermen from the Intha ethnic minority who practice a unique style of rowing while standing with one leg wrapped around a single oar.
Their skills are on full display during the annual Phaung Daw Oo pagoda festival, which lasts almost three weeks. The fishermen row their boats to pull the Karaweik barge, an ornate vessel with a golden image of a mythical bird at its bow that carries four statues of Buddha to tour 21 villages around the lake so that people can pay homage to them.
The festivities also include leg-rowing boat races with each boat carrying between 40 and 100 rowers. Hundreds of local residents observed the activities from small craft on the lake, and more from onshore.
The festival is being celebrated despite armed conflict across much of Myanmar, as the army seeks to quash resistance to its takeover in February 2021 that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. Thousands of people have died in the conflict and more than a million have been uprooted by army offensives.
Opponents of army rule urged people not to attend the festival because the military could use it as propaganda to claim that the country is back to normal under its control.
There were no incidents reported at the festival, where security was tight, but very few foreign tourists attended.
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