Htamane Festival - Myanmar Explorers

Htamane Festival

Htamane Festival

Myanmar has celebrated the traditional Htamane Festival by holding a cooking competition at Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.
The competition had a 3,000 US dollar reward and attracted 36 teams from government organizations and private enterprises. Htamane is a mixture of glutinous rice, coconut slices, sesame seeds, peanuts and a generous amounts of cooking oil.
The Htamane Festival is held throughout Myanmar every year in November in Myanmar’s lunar calender to celebrate and honor the achievement of the monsoon rice harvest. The Htamane Festival also helps promote unity and mutual support, as the churning of the glutinous food requires team work.

Htamane Festival

Htamane Festival

More Htamane making on Saturday…at the Tipitaka Monastery in Kent
Two to four men churn the rice in a large heated wok, going round and round. They must work together, their paddles moving in sync. As fun as it is to watch, making this sticky rice dish or htamane is a lot of work. After a while, someone will leave and another will take their place at the wok. The htamane is only as good as the muscle power that goes into making it. Each batch of rice needs almost a half an hour before it becomes a sticky glutinous mass. During this time, someone adds the remaining ingredients in and they get mixed in with the rice.

In Kent WA, part of the community came together Friday evening to make the Htamane for the following day. Though it was getting dark and cold, there was a lot of warmth in the bustle of the htamane making. Outside, there were two woks with strong men taking turns to make htamane. Inside the adjoining shed, the remaining ingredients were prepared and a fire lit to warm up cold hands.

Once the first batches of htamane were finished, the top was skimmed off to offer to the Buddha as a tribute. We were welcomed into the festival and invited to partake of the htamane. The generous portion of the gingery white htamane with lots of roasted peanuts and the brown and slightly sweeter htamane warmed and fortified us for the rest of the evening. I loved it. The glutinous rice was so sticky that it was easier to eat without forks, tearing off small portions with your hands.

The next morning, the entire community was in attendance and a festive atmosphere was in the air. People queued up for the htamane and other dishes such as mohinga that other cooks had prepared. The young people catching up with their friends, the old observing all the activity, and the organizers making sure everyone was welcomed and had food.

I left full of great food but also with a renewed sense of the importance of bringing people together to celebrate, cook, share and have a good time.

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