Tabaung, The Beauty Queen Month of Myanmar Lunar Calendar

  • By Maha Saddhamma Jotikadhaja,
    Sithu Dr. Khin Maung Nyunt
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People participate in the sand pagoda festival held annual.  Photo: Myanmar Digital News

Tabaung corresponding to March is the Beauty Queen Month of the twelve months in Myanmar Lunar Calendar. The twelve months are dividedly equally into three seasons, namely Summer [Geinman] Tabaung, Tagu, Kasone and Nayon [March, April, May and June respectively]. Raining Season or Monsoon [Wasan] Waso, Wakhaung, Tawthalin and Thidinkyut [July, August, September and October respectively] Winter [Heiman] Tazaungmon, Nattaw, Pyatho, Tabodwe [November, December, January and February respectively].
Tabaung is a transition month from winter to summer. So it bears a dual characteristics of cold season and warm season. In daytime Tabaung is warm but at night it is cold. Hence Myanmar saying goes, “ေန႔ပူလုိ႔၊ ညခ်မ္း၊ တေပါင္းလ၊ လသရမ္း”
Day time Tabaung is warm
Night time it’s cold
So unruly it runs.
Tabaung is the spring time in Myanmar. The entire comes out of its hiding in winter. As the old life passes away, the new life comes at the heel. Withered fallen leaves are blown away by breeze and wind. Tender yellow green leave buds peep out on the branches with flower buds or fruit buds. Especially colourful blooms of let pan [cotton tree] Pauk, Ngu, Padauk, Sein ban and Sein ban pyar [Jacaranda] paint the environment with red, scarlet, pink, orange, gold yellow, light blue colours, emitting faint fragrance. Under the bright blue sky in the warm sunshine, their beauties are beyond description of writer, poet or composer.
Yet Tabaung the Beauty Queen Month was, has been and is being depicted in Myanmar Visual arts [ပန္းဆယ္မ်ိဳး]
1. The Art of Black smith,
2. The Art of Gold Smith
3. The Art of Bronze Smith
4. The Art of Plaster
5. The Art of Mason
6. The Art of Caver
7. The Art of Sculptor
8. The Art of Tunner
9. The Art of painter and
10. The Art of Lacquer-wear making.
In performing arts, Tabaung is composed in music, sung in song, performed in dance and enacted in plays and dramas. In Myanmar literature Tabaung enjoys pride of place and priority in prose poem and drama of all Myanmar historic periods till today. The word Tabaung itself carries its literal and figurative meanings. Ta means “yearning” “reminiscence” “recapturing sweet memories” “feeling missing one’s loved ones, because of the pleasant and picturesque natural environment that Tabaung brings to us.
It was in the month of Tabaung that saint monk Ashin Kaludayi composed 64 stanzas of Pali poem to invite Lord Gotama Buddha to return to his royal father King Sudhodanna’s Kingdom Kapilavathu. In the poem he described the natural beauties of Himdayan Forests-landscapes, sky scapes and water scapes were painted in poetic language inducing Lord Gotama Buddha to return to his father’s kingdom by land journey through the forests of the Hymalan mountain Ranges.
His famous 64 Pali poems became the model in Myanmar literature. To eite but one outstanding example is the Tawla poem of monk Shin Ottamakyaw of Inwa Period of Myanmar Literature. In addition to the skillful composition of verses choice of words, simile, metaphors, alliteration, etc. of literary features were unsurpassing. Many writers of British Colonial Period of Myanmar, both native and foreign rendered it into English. Dr. Ba Han, an eminent writer translator of Pre-war days, rendered into English all stanzas of Shin Ottamakyaw’s Twala [Journey Through the Glades]. The month Tabaung was in his Twelve Seasons poems by Hpo Thudaw U Min as follows.
မန္းေရႊဖီၾကိဳင္ ေလွ်ာက္လုိ႔
ဥတရာ၊ အရဂုဏ္က
တိမ္ဘုံမွာ ေရာင္ၿခည္လင္းလုိ႔
တူမကြာ၊ ထိန္၀ါလဲ့
၀မ္းဘဲ၊ ေရႊဇင္ေရာ္တုိ႔
ေဖၚေခၚသံ၊ ေမာင္မယ္က်ဴးတယ္

Major C.M Enrique [pen name Theopieilus] Recruiting Officer 70th Kachin Rifles, Burma, appreciated Hpo Thudaw U Min’s verses on 12 Seasons so much so that he made. The following admiring remark in one of his books “A Burmese Wonder land”.
“….of the Nature poems the best known is “An ode to the seasons” [Yathe Bwe] by Hpo Thudaw U Min a court poet. He described the seasons with considerable charm. The following is his English rendering of Tabaung.
This is the time
When shimmering high
Orion glitters in the sky
And Shinning with the moon at night
Mingles with hers his yellow Light.
The sweet scent of Tharaphe
And the faint smell of the Padauk tree
Upon a gentle soughing breeze
About the sandbank of the stream
The white arms of a river gleam
I hear the clamorous return
Of wild ducks and silver terns.
The next admirer of Tabaung was another Englishman B.D.Dennis Grant Brown
He translated one of Myawady Mingyi U Sa’s pat pyos on the beauty of Tabaung.

ေ၀စီစီ ေလေၿပေလညွင္း လုံႏုိင္ေအာင္သာ ေလာင္းၿပန္ေတာ့သာ
အုံးေရႊ အုံးေရႊ သဥာ
ညဳိးညဳိးငယ္၊ ေသမ်ားေသခ်င္ဘြယ္
ဖုံးၾကြယ္ၾကြယ္ ဖန္တဲ့အား၊
ေ၀ယန္လယ္၊ စံပါယ္ၿမနယ္ေလ
ရတယ္ေစ၊ ေႏြမူမူ
သဇင္၊ စကား၊ ခ်ယား၊ စံပယ္
စံဖိေရႊသြယ္ ပ်ံၾကြယ္၀တ္မႈံေမႊး
စုံၿပဳိင္ယံေက်းက၊ ပန္သာေခြ
ေဆာင္ယြန္းယံေဘြ ေလ၀န္းရစ္ခါေခြ
ရြက္၀ါေၾကြ၊ ေႏြမူးမူး
မိန္ရာသီ၊ ခါမွီလတေပါင္း
ျမလႊာေမွာင္ ေဆာင္ခုိၿမဴး

Emerald and Red Brown
1. Emerald and Red Brown clouds
Blue, brown and gold
Below the clouds, silver mist
Gathering richly beautiful scene
Soft and gentle breeze blow
But I can scarce be comforted
The breezes bring along the mist
And changes and slow.
2. Chevron and lotus carving,
Grandeur all around
Yet sad and drooping like
A fading flower,
I feel I well could wish to die
3. Honoured and noble
Yet so unfeeling
That in royal luxury
Aloof, unheeding as an Emerald,
He can stay, so heartless
He can be
Tis left for me to grieve, and
Bitter grief is mine
That he can utterly forget
4. Orchids and champaks,
Star flowers, and Jasmines
Golden tendrilled Samphi
Sweet fragrance spreading
On the gentle by wafting breeze
And all about the edges of
The woods
All kinds of lovely flowers
5. In among ornamental buildings
Little whirl winds twirl
And run around
Yellow leaves are falling
Summer is at hand
Pisces risen, bring in Tabaung
Now is the beautiful month
A thin dark emerald veil
Of mist plays on the hills
Now the golden samphi will
All be full of buds
But no, unmoved he still forgets

6. Bowed down and sad
I drop and fade
Sunk in grief as boundless as sea
Oh! Like a water lily far from water pining
Tall my heart is breaking
Never coming,
This he does not see.
The Beauty Queen month “Tabaung” is the background of all Myanmar love ditties of the past, present and our current time.

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