Taunggyi - Shan State
Taunggyi was established as key center in the 1890s, when Sir J. George Scott had the state's administration moved there, and is the present capital of Shan State.
Once a year, to coincide with the Tazaungmon (November) full-moon festival, the famous hot air balloon festival is held in Taunggyi. Tens of thousands of people come from all over Myanmar to watch, as they do on Inle Lake. The Thadingyut and Tazaungmon full-moon festivals are held throughout South East Asia in honour of Lord Buddha and commemorate his return form Tarwateintha heaven, when he was accompanied by a large number of heavenly beings who lit the way for him. The festivals of light, symbolizing these heavenly lights, reach their climax with the long night of the candies at the Tazaungmon full moon, when the monks are given new robes and provisions.
Finest Balloon Competition
The hot air balloon festival takes place in a square below the Yat Taw Me pagoda (pagoda of wish fulfilment) and lasts for four days. During the day, school children and visitors release colourful balloons with animal motifs, which were watched by judges who at the end of the festival award a prize for the finest balloon. The balloons are lovingly fashioned from paper, are lit by burners. For this reason, all foreign visitors are confined to a VIP stand at the side of the square. As soon as darkness settles over the town, the balloons - some of which are colossal - are brought to the square and decorated with candles. When the balloon rises into the air, a firework is set off, which fills the night sky with colour.
The balloon ceremony is accompanied by musicians who play and dance to lively traditional Shan music. Every successful flight is greeted by the spectators wild applause. Virtually every day there are processions to the festival site, with people bringing precious balloons from all over Shan State or carrying religious tower-like structures laden with alms through the town, to be given to the monks.