Kachin Manaw Festival is an annual traditional dance festival celebrated by Kachin people. Mostly held at Myitkyina, Kachin State also known as Manaw Land in Myanmar and also celebrated by Kachin people around the world. Manaw is the largest festival in Myitkyina, held at the beginning of January. Manaw Festival is the most significant event for Kachin People. Tribes of Kachin gather together in Manaw ground and dance around the erected Manaw poles. The Manau dance is performed at Manau festivals, which originated as part of the ‘Nat’ or spirit worship of the past.

The legend of Kachin Manaw Festival

According to Kachin mythology, Manaw was first performed by Nat, spirits, and birds. Nat, spirits invited living creatures from land to participate in the Manaw dance in heaven. Only birds have participated. Afterward, birds came down to land and they taught humans how to dance Manaw dance. 

From another folk-tale, there were 9 Suns appeared on earth. Humans were suffered a lot from that incident. They decided to send birds to heaven for mercy. Birds were performed Manaw dance and sang for Nat, spirits. They were pleasured by their performance and they let them dance Manaw dance on earth. Later, men have emulated the dance from birds and started dance Manaw dance to worship Nat, spirits. 

Manaw (Manau) was called after the proverb " Masaw Nau Ningsan Jau". 'Masaw Ningsan' means heaven and above. 'Nau', 'Jau', 'Jaw' men give and worship. Manau means worship to God or heaven. 

In 1947, a Manau was held to celebrate the end of Japanese occupation. Following independence, the Burmese government helped provide finances for the Myitkyina Manau annually on Kachin State Day up until 1958.

Types of Manaw (Manau)

Manaw dance is celebrated only on the five most important occasions.

  1. To celebrate victory in war.
  2. To gather the clans to meet and settle accounts, make plans for the future.
  3. To commemorate the death of an elder.
  4. For a housewarming.
  5. To bring good fortune to new farmlands and cultivation. 

There are originally 14 types of Manaw. They are:

1. Sut Manau 2. Kumran Manau
3.Ninghtan Manau 4.Padang Manau
5.Ju Manau 6.Htingram Manau
7.Ningshawn Manau 8.Kumrum Manau
9.Nausawt Manau 10.Htinghtang Manau
11.HKridip Manau 12. Roidu kaput Manau
13.Hkindu tep Manau 14.Sha Dip Hpawt Manau

The five principal Manaw festivals

1.Sut Manau Sut Manau is a celebration of wealthiness and a thanksgiving festival.
2. Padang Manau or Rawt Manau Padang Manau is a celebration of victory in battles.
3. Ju Manau Ju Manau held after the funeral of Duwa and Dujan (Chefs).
4. Kumran Manau Kumran Manau was held to bless families who have traditionally decided to leave their folds and build their own houses and build their land.
5. Sha Dip Hpawt Manau Sha Dip Hpawt Manau is held to defeat evil spirits that may exist on new grounds to be cultivated.

Features of the Manaw

Manaw Patterns (Manau Maka) and Manaw Poles

Manaw patterns (Manau Maka) are signature looks of Manaw Festival and Kachin people. The Manaw poles are a totally of 12 pillars connected and stand in the middle of the Manaw ground. It's high at about 20 meters. Manaw patterns are painted on the Manaw poles. Every pattern on poles has different meanings. Also, the pictures of Sun, Star, Moon, Hornbill, and other animals are painted on Manaw poles. The patterns and designs on poles can be changed depending on different places and occasions.


Manaw dance is the rhythmical dance. Manaw Dance is performed by all various tribes of Kachin lead by two chiefs (Naushawng) leading. Behind the chiefs, fellow members of various tribes of Kachin follow the moves, dance steps and they have to change the rhythm and footsteps when the chiefs do. In the beginning, men and women are dance separately. Later, they combine in the middle of the Manaw dance. The chiefs move the footsteps by following the patterns of Manaw poles.


Kachin traditional musical instruments are booming drum (Bau) and flute (Sumpi). The musicians are standing in front of the Manaw poles. The vocals team is singing in a group. The instruments team plays a series of gongs, drums, and traditional reed instruments. The Manaw songs are not always the same. Songs are composed and sing depend on the type of Manaw.


The chiefs of the Manaw wear long robes with headdresses of hornbill, peacock feathers and horns. Fellow Kachin people who participated in Manaw dance have to wear tribal traditional dresses. Only those who wear traditional dresses are allowed to participate in Manaw dance. Men must hold a sword while dancing. Women have to hold handkerchief or big fan. 

Kachin Manaw Festival photos


Similar Festivals

Naga New Year Festival

Naga Traditional New Year Festival is praised in the middle January, the time after the harvest and before beginning the cultivating activities again. It is a period that they clarify the record of debts. Besides, they make prayers to have great yields and fair atmosphere and to be liberated from a wide range of sickness and scourge. It was in this festival, family members, relatives and companions from far and close cheerfully meet with each other. In this celebration, the Nagas sing musical melodies and folk dances that mark our custom and culture. Having seen a decent outcome, Naga Traditional New Year Festival was commended in township level as well since 1956-57.

Here is the detail about Naga New Year Festival

Hmong New Year

The Hmong New Year is an annual celebration that takes place in the fall to honor the ancestors and give thanks for the completion of the year’s harvest.  Over three days certain rituals are performed to honor the spirits of ancestors and to provide for the health and safety of the current family in the New Year.  After these three days, people celebrate for several days with outdoor sports, and games, music, dancing, and feasting.

Hmong culture is constantly evolving and changing, especially as younger generations grow up in the U.S. and adapt more to American culture.  The Hmong New Year and other traditional festivals in Southeast Asia lasted for days.  The Hmong in the U.S. have adapted the New Year celebration to accommodate stricter work schedules and further distances that people travel to attend.

Here is the detail about Hmong New Year

FAQs about Kachin Manaw Festival

Q. When is Kachin Manaw Festival?

A. In general, the festival will be held at the beginning of January. The exact date will be confirmed 6-7 months in advance. Do not hesitate to contact our team to arrange the services to match with your plan.

Q. Where is Kachin Manaw Festival?

A. The festival is held in city of Myitkyina, which is the capital of Myanmar’s northernmost Kachin State. Sonasia Holiday’s guests reach the city via direct flight from Yangon or Mandalay.

Check the below map for the exact location of the festival.

Q. What to wear when joining the festival?

A. Western-style clothing choices are fine to wear when attending the annual festival.

Q. What is the Water Festival in Myanmar?

A. Thingyan Water Festival in Myanmar Burmese New Year Festival. It is a Buddhist festival that usually falls in the middle of April and is witnesses a 4-5-day celebration.

Here is everything about Thingyan Festival

Q. What are the traditional festivals in Myanmar?

A. Some of the traditional festivals in Myanmar are:

  1. Thingyan Festival
  2. Kachin Manaw Festival
  3. Kyaikhtiyo Thadingyut Festival
  4. Shittaung Pagoda Festival
  5. Kyaukse Elephant Dance Festival

Q. How many festivals are there in Myanmar?

A. There is no fixed number of the exciting festivals that are celebrated in Myanmar.

Q. What is the culture of Myanmar?

A. The culture of Myanmar is majorly influenced by Buddhism.

Q. Which holidays do Myanmar celebrate?

A. There are a lot of holidays that Myanmar celebrates and the best ones are mentioned below!

  1. Independence Day
  2. Karen New Year
  3. Full Moon Day of Tabaung

Q. What is the national dance of Myanmar?

A. Yein is the national dance of Myanmar.

Q. What is Myanmar famous for?

A. Myanmar is famous for local beer, tea shops, archeological sites, and stupas.

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My name is Jolie, I am a Vietnamese girl growing up in the countryside of Hai Duong, northern Vietnam. Since a little girl, I was always dreaming of exploring the far-away lands, the unseen beauty spots of the world. My dream has been growing bigger and bigger day after day, and I do not miss a chance to make it real. After graduating from the univesity of language in Hanoi, I started the exploration with a travel agency and learning more about travel, especially responsible travel. I love experiencing the different cultures of the different lands and sharing my dream with the whole world. Hope that you love it too!


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