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Burmese Festival FAQ

Festivals:
What is the best way to research dates and festivals from the chart?
What festivals are included?
Can I find the details of all these festivals elsewhere in a conventional list?
Calendars:
Why do the Burmese people hold their festivals on completely different dates each year?
How do they adjust their lunar calendar to keep it in step with the solar one?
Burma also has several non-lunar holidays, doesn't it? Including Thingyan!
Chart:
What are the horizontal and vertical axes of the chart supposed to represent?
You say the columns of the chart are colour-coded to represent places in Burma. Where is the key to the colours?
How do I call up absolutely all the details you have about a particular festival?
How do I go about calling up a chart for a different year?
How do I control the horizontal straight edge that sometimes appears, to line up dates with events?
Map:
What are the colours on the map, and how do I stop it getting in my way?
Accuracy and Authorship:
How accurate are the details you give?
Who is the author of this festival chart?
Trouble-shooting:
Sometimes nothing happens when I pass the mouse pointer over the white name of a festival location.
Is there any way of making the chart load faster?

What is the best way to research dates and festivals from the chart?

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What festivals are included?

Burma has a large number of festivals - almost every pagoda of any note has an annual festival. Our own list, derived by Vicky Bowman from a number of sources, includes many of the principal ones. Please contribute more information! If you can send
me photos of any of these festivals, or details of ones that are not on our list, we will include them with thanks, with your name next to them!TOP

Can I find the details of all these festivals elsewhere in a conventional list?

Yes, on Vicky Bowman's
full list, which currently includes around 165 festivals.TOP

Why do the Burmese people hold their festivals on completely different dates each year?

Apart from the most important festival of all (Thingyan, which is held in April), all Burmese traditional festivals are held on fixed dates in the Burmese traditional calendar. However, this is a lunar calendar. The twelve Burmese months, when added together, produce a total of 354 days - compared with the familiar 365 / 366 in the solar calendar used by most other countries. Unlike the Muslim calendar, in which the lunar year floats around independent of the solar one, the Burmese year is continuously adjusted by Burmese experts to keep it roughly in step with the solar one - so that each Burmese month always comes in the same season. Unfortunately, there is no easy mathematical relationship between lunar and solar years, so the chart does not just repeat every so many years - although of course there are individual years whose Burmese dates are exactly the same.

The Burmese calendar has twelve months, alternating in length between 30 and 29 days. The months are: Tagu, Kason, Nayon, Waso, Wagaung, Tawthalin, Thadingyut, Tazaungmon, Nadaw, Pyatho, Tabodwe and Tabaung. January normally starts somewhere in Nadaw or Pyatho, but there can be as much as 36 days difference between one year and another! The full moon comes on the 15th of each Burmese month. The new-moon day is taken as the last day of the month. TOP

How do Burmese experts adjust their lunar calendar to keep it in step with the solar one?

An extra 30 days can be added when necessary before the month of Waso, in the summer. The full moon of Waso marks the start of the four-month Buddhist Lent. The new 30 days are then called First Waso, and the Buddhist Lent starts in the Second Waso. Less frequently, an extra day is added at the end of Nayon, to bring the 15th of each month back in line with the full moon day when necessary. TOP

Burma also has several non-lunar holidays, doesn't it? Including Thingyan!

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What are the horizontal and vertical axes of the chart supposed to represent?

The vertical axis represents time and the horizontal axis represents space.

In time, each chart shows all 365 (or 366) days of a solar year - through which you can scroll a screenful at a time.
Normal international dates appear down the left hand column, together with days of the week.
The far right column has the dates of the Burmese months, which are lunar - Nadaw, Pyatho, Tabodwe etc. The 15th of each month is the full moon day (marked with a moon icon), with waxing days above in black and waning days below in red.
So much for time. The central ten columns of the chart deal with geographical location - ten columns of festivals, colour coded according to region.
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You say the columns of the chart are colour-coded to represent places in Burma. Where is the key to the colours?

Column Background Label   WHERE IN BURMA?
1       Throughout Burma.
2       Vicinity of Rangoon.
3-4       Along the road north from Rangoon along the Irrawaddy to Pagan.
5       Along the direct inland road up from Rangoon to Mandalay.
6-7       Mandalay and its surrounding area.
8       Shan State in the east.
9  
 
 
  The east, including Kayah and Karen States.
  The south, including Mon State, Tenasserim and the Delta area.
10  
 
 
  The north, including Kachin State.
  The west, including Chin State and Arakan.

To see just what area of Burma is represented by each colour, please look on the map below.

Unfortunately, there are times when several festivals coincide even in the same area.

Where this occurs, either they are shown by overlapping patches in the correct column (with dates specified), or occasionally a festival is transferred to a different column. If you see the odd red patch in the grey column, expect to find a Mandalay event that has been displaced for the sake of clarity.
At the bottom of the screen, copies of the column headings will remain as reminders even when you scroll. TOP

How do I call up absolutely all the details you have about a particular festival?

Coloured patches represent festivals. In each coloured patch there is a white word naming the town or village where the event takes place. Simply move the mouse pointer over a white name in order to get three particulars about that event: The more complete details can be seen in a new window when you click on a white place name (instead of just moving the mouse pointer over it). A paragraph or perhaps several paragraphs of details about that particular festival will now appear in a new window.

How do I control the horizontal straight edge that sometimes appears, to line up dates with events?

The straight edge - a magenta line for lining up festivals with dates - appears whenever the mouse pointer goes into the column of weekdays. Move the pointer to the right, out of the weekday column, at the height where you want the line to stay put.
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What are the colours on the map, and how do I stop it getting in my way?

The Map

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How do I go about calling up a chart for a different year?

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How accurate are the details you give?

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Who is the author of this festival chart?

Vicky Bowman is to be congratulated for bringing the great majority of the festivals together, from reference works and her own travels. We have also had contributions from users of the chart, such as Dr Owen Wrigley.

Dreaming up the computer realisation of the chart, including the various interactive mechanisms, gave a lot of entertainment for me, Derek Brooke-Wavell, hon. secretary of the Britain-Burma Society.

Sometimes nothing happens when I pass the mouse pointer over the white name of a festival location.

Maybe that link is being masked by a virtual object that is on top of it. Both the map and the green "Help" corner occupy rectangular objects, of which part is invisible. Even an invisible part of an object will prevent a link from "seeing" the mouse pointer. Try using the "Hide Help" and "Hide Map" buttons, and see if that helps. TOP

Is there any way of making the chart load faster?

Yes, there are ways, and we too have been doing work on our side to speed things up.
Before the chart forms before your eyes, it has to go through three processes:
  1. The configuration for the year you have selected must first be calculated and the code drawn up that your computer will understand. There is a great deal to change from one year to another. However, this part of the program is carried out by a very fast computer, the server on the web site. There is nothing you can do to speed it up when you first open the chart - though it will speed up appreciably for subsequent charts on the same occasion.
  2. The scripts and graphics have to be downloaded over the Internet. The main script is 73K, which is quite large but not exceptionally so, and the graphics do not take long. Quite a lot of them will already be in your computer's memory by the time you get to the main chart, becase they were downloaded for the Help page that preceded it. Subsequent charts after the first one will also load faster, because your computer now has a lot that it needs in its memory. However, you could certainly speed things up here by getting a faster Internet connection,or maybe some program like InternetBoost.
  3. Last of all, your own computer has to interpret and draw the chart. This wait can be the worst of all because everything on the computer stops moving, maybe for as much as 20 seconds, while your browser is doing the complex calculations. We are talking of a chart with 13 columns and 365 horizontal lines in each column. Of course a faster computer will make a difference here. And there is also a difference between browsers - the various makes and versions. The latest browsers work fastest of all, if your computer has enough memory for them: Internet Explorer 6 or Mozilla Firebird. Firebird is still in an experimental version, but has been very sound in my exerience, and certainly very fast. Changing to a new browser is certainly worth trying if you are fed up with delays. Browsers can be downloaded free. However, the chart will only work on the Netscape/Mozilla/Internet Explorer range.
  4. My own computer, which is used to visiting the web site, takes about 7 seconds to display the help page before the chart, and twelve seconds (after pressing the "festivals" button) for the main chart to form.
    Of course, calling up just the calendar without the festivals saves time on every stage of the process, and is very fast.
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