Revelers around the world have just rang in the New Year. Many traditionally celebrate with fireworks or Sky Lanterns. However, in November of each year, revelers in Myanmar’s Shan State celebrate the end of the rainy season with a traditional holiday called the Tazaungdaing Festival of Lights.
On the week of the full moon this fireworks festival attracts thousands to Taunggyi city. But this festival features something special. “Firemasters” build huge fireworks balloons that are used to carry fireworks aloft.
This tradition, though dangerous, has been carried on for generations. The fireworks are often had crafted by the Firemasters who pass the tradition on from generation.
The huge fireworks balloons are prepared by teams who use bamboo torches to heat the air and inflate the balloons.
Once aloft, their cargo of fireworks begins to produce a spectacular display of colors.
Traditional fireworks chemicals such as Potassium Nitrate are used, but sensitive chemicals such as Potassium Chlorate are used as well. Potassium Chlorate is cheap and produces rich colors, however it is extremely sensitive to friction or heat when mixed with the most common of fireworks chemicals, Sulfur.
Accidents do happen but the tradition lives on because the beauty and grace of these balloons seem to outweigh the risks.
The festival is Buddhist, but it’s origins predate the introduction of Buddhism to Burma, and are believed to stem from the Kattika festival, which honors the guardian planets in Hindu.
The use of hot air balloons is thought to have originated in 1894, when the British first held hot air balloon competitions in Taunggyi.
Similar Fireworks Balloons can also be found at the Yi Peng celebrations in Northern Thailand.
Photo credits go to De Ne Chen at http://www.atlasobscura.com/users/denechen?view=articles
To learn more about traditional uses of fireworks during different holidays check out these other interesting articles on the US Fireworks Blog.
You also might be interested to purchase your own fireworks balloons fireworks or Sky Lanterns.
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