Category Archives: Culture

NUG Urges Boycott of Myanmar Coup Leader Family Businesses

Feature: Family photo of Myanmar junta chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing

Myanmar’s parallel National Unity Government (NUG) has urged the public to refuse to work for businesses run by the family of coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

The NUG’s Ministry of Commerce declared in an October 18 statement that 15 companies owned by the junta chief’s family should be boycotted as they are supporting violence against civilians.

Anyone who doesn’t abide by the NUG’s statement risks being listed as a collaborator with the military regime, as Snr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing is benefiting personally from the companies.

Citing an investigation by the NUG’s Economic Intelligence Unit, Daw Khin Ma Ma Myo, the NUG’s Minister of Commerce, said that “Min Aung Hlaing, the perpetrator of the state rebellion and war crimes, is abusing the military’s power and running many businesses for the benefit of his family.”

His family’s companies include medical supplies, hospitals, construction, hotels, transportation, film production and entertainment, insurance, telecommunications, an art gallery, restaurants and a gym, according to the Ministry of Commerce’s statement.

The Myanmar military also owns two conglomerates – Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited and Myanmar Economic Corporation – which operate in almost all sectors of the economy.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing (middle, front row) attends the opening of the Kan Thar Yar Hospital, in which his family has shares, in December 2017. / Senior General Min Aung Hlaing website

Daw Khin Ma Ma Myo told The Irrawaddy that people supporting the pro-democracy movement are already boycotting military-affiliated businesses. However, some people are still working with military-backed companies, which allows the junta to raise funds to continue their lethal crackdowns on civilians.

“We have to uproot the culture of having military-owned businesses and companies owned by military leaders’ families,” she said.

“If you don’t want to be on the list of people supporting violence, this is the time to retreat. We urge the public to refuse to use the services these companies provide and not to act as proxy directors or owners or allow their names to be used to register military-backed companies,” added Daw Khin Ma Ma Myo.

The NUG said that people who did collaborate with the businesses, whether as partners, directors, board members, shareholders, staff and legal advisers, risked being punished by the law.

“Action will be taken in accordance with international law and procedures,” the NUG said in its statement.

Of the 15 businesses listed by the NUG, the Mytel Group Company, part-owned by the military, and the Seventh Sense entertainment company, led by the coup leader’s daughter, were listed as ‘suspended’ when their status was checked October 19 on the Directorate of Investment and Company Registration (DICA) website. Information on some of the other companies listed by the NUG was also unavailable on the DICA website, the source of company information under the ousted National League for Democracy government.

The list of companies affiliated to Snr. Gnr. Min Aung Hlaing and his family, as issued by the NUG, is as follows.

  1. A & M Mahar Foods and Medical Products Company
  2. Sky One Construction Company
  3. The Yangon Restaurant, Yangon Gallery for art exhibitions
  4. Everfit Company Limited, gym and fitness in Yangon
  5. Seventh Sense Company Limited, film production and entertainment
  6. Stellar Seven Entertainment Company (Limited)
  7. Azura Beach Resort in Chaung Tha, Ayeyarwady Region
  8. Aung Myint Moh Min Insurance Company Limited
  9. Mytel Telecom Company
  10. Bone Myat Pyae Sone Trading Company (Limited)
  11. Kan Thar Yar Hospital
  12. JOOX MYANMAR Music platform
  13. Pullman Hotel in Mandalay
  14. Nyein Chan Pyae Soe Bus Terminal
  15. Moe Kaung Yadanar Mother and Child Care Hospital.


Myanmar actor who backed anti-coup protests arrested as junta hunts 120 celebrities amid crackdown on dissent

In this 4 April, 2021, file photo, young demonstrators participate in an anti-coup mask strike in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo via The Associated Press

Paing Takhon, 24 — a star in both Myanmar and neighbouring Thailand — has been active in the protest movement both in person at rallies and through his massive social media following.

A leading Myanmar actor, singer and model who has backed the country’s anti-coup protests was arrested on Thursday, his sister said, as the junta hunts more than 100 celebrities for supporting the movement.

The country has been rocked by daily protests since the military seized power on February 1, and the authorities have launched a bloody crackdown on dissent, with hundreds killed and more than 2,500 arrested.

Paing Takhon, 24 — a star in both Myanmar and neighbouring Thailand — has been active in the protest movement both in person at rallies and through his massive social media following.

“Some 50 soldiers with eight military trucks,” came to arrest him from his mother’s home in the North Dagon area of Yangon early Thursday, his sister Thi Thi Lwin posted on Facebook.

“As he’s seriously ill, they arrested him calmly without violence. We do not know where he’s taken,” she added.

According to recent posts on his social media — where he had more than a million followers on Facebook and Instagram — Paing Takhon has been in poor health.

“I haven’t been in good health for many days. I used to pray whenever I worshipped Buddha for good health and to get peace in Myanmar as soon as possible,” he wrote on Wednesday.

In February he posted pictures of himself in a white tracksuit with a megaphone, hard hat and a white fluffy dog strapped to his chest at a protest.

“Help us stop crime against humanity,” he posted on Instagram in February.

His social media pages have been taken down, though it is not clear whether he did this himself.

Paing Takhon is also famous in Thailand and has appeared in TV commercials and shows.

In January, he shaved his head and briefly joined the Buddhist monkhood, posting pictures of himself in burgundy robes.

The Myanmar authorities have published a list of some 120 celebrities wanted for arrest, including singers Lin Lin and Chit Thu Wai, actors Phway Phway, Eaindra Kyaw Zin and Pyay Ti Oo and model May Myat Noe.

The celebrities are facing accusations of spreading dissent against the military, an offence that carries a three year jail term if convicted.

Agence France-Presse



The Tea Tribes are integral to the cultures of Assam and West Bengal, and it is this amalgamation of cultures that gives the modern day its distinctive richness. After three years of success, in this fourth year of celebration, it is a moment of pride as the cultural uniqueness of the community is brought forth through the vibrant festivity of ‘Sirish Mahotsav’.

Sirish is the answer to the calling for preservation, promotion, and propagation of the various cultural forms of the TeaTribes. The contribution of the Tea Tribes to the culture and economy has been immense, and Sirish is a medium to enhance and propagate the art, dance and drama forms of this very integral fiber of Assam. We need to use Sirish as a landmark to strengthen the bonds between people and allow the hearts of the community to express this unique cultural heritage that we are so blessed with.

Since the 1830s and over 8 generations, the Tea Tribes have been fundamental to the scaffoldings of Rural Assam;creating bright futures in these remote but breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. It is in our best interest to promote the creation of sustainable futures in these rural locales through the Rural Futures programme of our sister-concern, the Balipara Foundation.

Our collaborative efforts can bring dynamic changes in upholding the traditions and integrating a sense of pride in the culture of the Tea Tribes and lead to the development of holistic, self-sufficient and empowered communities.

Sirish Mahotsav is a successful example of fostering Rural Futures in the Eastern Himalayas. Through the ‘Rural Futures Framework’ launched at the Eastern Himalayan NaturenomicsTM Forum in 2017, we aim to catalyze conservation efforts through the designing of holistic models for human-centric, community-based conservation to create social-environmental and economic interdependence.

By Ranjit Barthakur,
Founding Chairman,
Myanmar Matters

Empowering Rural Futures through the festivity of Sirish in Assam

Bagan: A Jewel of Southeast Asia


Lying on the banks of the mighty Irrawaddy river – 150 kilometers south-west of Mandalay, the vast plain of Bagan is a home to thousands of Buddhist temples that combine to form one of the richest archaeological sites in Southeast Asia and an extraordinary testament to the religious devotion of Myanmar’s people and rulers over the centuries.

Along with offering views quite unlike anywhere else on the earth, one of the beauties of spending time in what is now officially called the Bagan Archaeological Zone is that, once you have paid your K25,000 entry fee, you have the freedom to explore this fascinating area at your own leisure. Bagan is in general more-touristy and possibly less of the ‘real Myanmar’ than other parts of the country, but despite obvious sales ploys such as a multitude of children selling hand-drawn postcards, you will rarely suffer the hard sell – and the locals remain warm and friendly.

An Ancient Kingdom

BaganBagan (formerly known as Pagan) was the capital of a large influential kingdom from the ninth to the thirteenth century. This kingdom was the first to unify the area that is now Myanmar, establishing the Burmese culture and ethnicity as well as Theravada Buddhism in the region. Over this period of rule, as the city and kingdom grew in stature, over ten thousand temples were built on the surrounding plains.

Mongol invasions eventually led to the fall of the Kingdom of Pagan, the city was reduced to a small settlement, never to recover its past glory. The area did, however, remain a destination for Buddhist pilgrimage. A few hundred temples were added between the thirteenth and twentieth century, but the extensive earthquake damage over the years meant only 2,200 temples remained, in differing states of repair.

Indeed, over the last five hundred years, many of the existing temples have been renovated – a process continuing till date, has yielded mixed results. Many say that Bagan has not attained the UNESCO World Heritage site status due to the Myanmar government’s insensitive updates in the 1990s, although it is once again being considered. However, the area is large enough and there remains so much of what is original still to see, that none of this stops the area from being a unique wonder to behold.


A Vast and Diverse Area

Each of the 2,200 plus temples, stupas and pagodas has its own unique story to tell, and many can be freely explored inside and out. Some are locked, but even if you are traveling around without a guide, you can sometimes find a friendly local nearby to open them for you. The most spectacular time to see the temples is when the sun dramatically rises and falls over the plain at dawn or dusk.

A large earthquake hit Bagan in 2016 and caused significant damage to some of the temples, but ironically, much of it was to the more modern additions to the then ancient structures. Many believe that the quake may actually end up encouraging more sensitive development in the area, and the vast majority of temples are now once again free to be explored.

Exploring the Temples and Plain

There are a number of ways to explore the area:

  • By Bicycle

This is the cheapest way to get around, and allows the most freedom to do as you choose; the plain is too large to explore by foot, but getting around by bike allows you to get to most of the temples. Almost all hotels and guesthouses offer them for hire, as do various restaurants and shops on the popular ‘Restaurant Row’ in the town of Nyaung U.

You can also cheaply hire an electric bike – through on the flat plains of Bagan, the advantages over a bicycle are minimal (tourists are not allowed to use motorbikes in the area).

You can pick up a free tourist map showing you the main points of interest; although you are unlikely to get seriously lost, it is worth planning your trip in advance to make the most of your time. Bear in mind that it can get hot and dusty when cycling, particularly during hotter times of the year, so carrying water is essential and helps you beat the heat. You can pick up refreshments at the many restaurants and tea shops in the area.

  • Horse and Cart Guided Tour

This is the most romantic way to tour the temples. Most drivers can speak minimum English and have the profound knowledge of better routes around the temples along with few hidden gems. However, horses have to follow more well-trodden tracks than bicycles, as there are areas they cannot reach. Prices range from K15,000 to K25,000 for a day, depending on the season.

  • By Car

If you want to avoid the heat and dust completely, take an air-conditioned taxi or minibus. This is naturally the most comfortable way to get around, and most drivers speak some English. Cars will usually cost between $20 and $50 per day, depending on the season and how far you travel.

  • By Hot Air Balloon

The most exotic and spectacular way to see the temples is to head to the sky. Trips cost USD285 per person and offer a unique view of the plain and temples. You should always book well in advance, particularly at popular times of the year such as Christmas and the New Year (the ballooning season runs from October to April).

Taking two or more days and using different forms of transport can be the best way to explore the plains. If you see the highlights by horse and cart or hot air balloon, then following it up with a bike ride can be the ideal way to find the specific temples that have taken your fancy.


A Guide to the Top Temples

The best approach to explore temples with a guide, but you can also get some advice from a friendly local and start exploring on your own. There are some sites that should not be missed, which include:

  • The large and the beautifully maintained Ananda Pagoda – A huge festival takes place here in late December, which celebrates the traditional lives of farmers in the area; locals come from surrounding villages in their decorated bullock carts and camp on the plain. Theatrical troupes provide entertainment, and on the final daybreak, there are formal alms given to monks who live in the nearby monastery.
  • The Gawdaw Palin Pagoda which sits on the banks of the Irrawaddy River
  • The Myoe Daung Monastery – a beautiful teak-built structure and the imposing Tharabar Gate in Old Bagan.
  • The distinctive red brick Dhammayangyi temple, covering the largest area of all the temples in the area.
  • The tallest structure on the plain, The That Byin Nyu temple.
  • Amazing sunrise and sunset views from the Shwesandaw Pagoda and Pyathada pagodas. As of the new season starting in October 2017, there will also be a number of new hilltop viewpoints to stop overcrowding on the temples, and hopefully climbing on the temples will be restricted.
    Of all the pagodas in Bagan, the Shwezigon Pagoda in Nyaung U is a traditional Myanmar temple complex.

Away from the towns and most famous temples, exploring off beaten tracks can be a lot of fun; the pagodas that can be found east of Nyaung U, along with the banks of the Irrawaddy, are a good example. Here you will find open temples with beautifully preserved interiors, from the top of which you will see fantastic views over the river – and hardly other tourists.

For more background, history and more impressive collection of artifacts from the region, head to the Bagan Archaeological Museum, located off the main road near the river bank in Old Bagan (entry$5).

Content and Photo Courtesy – Marcus Allender, Founder,

From the Land of Shan State

Shan State

Shan State is one of the most popular States in Myanmar for tourists, not only because of its cuisine, but also because of the different attraction it offers. It is located in the Middle Eastern part of Myanmar, and its capital Taunggyi is famous for the Hot-air Balloon Festival.

It is also famous for the beautiful Inle Lake, where the floating gardens, the fishermen village and the unique way of one-leg paddling will fascinate you.

For adventurers, Hsipaw and Kalaw are two great cities to be in touch with nature and do trekking while Kakku Pagodas are a must visit the religious site.

If Asian food is one of the best and most varied in the world, imagine a country with its own delicious cuisine plus a healthy dose of Asian ingredients and cooking styles. Burmese cuisine is also very healthy, favoring fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as fish products like fish sauce and fish paste and fermented seafood.

Here are three of the most popular and authentic Shan State dishes:

1. Shan Noodles

Shan Noodles

Shan noodles are one of the most popular dishes in Myanmar. You will find them in every teahouse and restaurant. You can have them either as a soup or as a salad, and in both cases, the sauce is the same. The noodles are different. The ones used for the soup are sticky and flat rice noodles, whereas the ones used for the salad are thick and round rice noodles.

To prepare the sauce, they blend tomatoes and then add salt, sugar, oil, sugar cane sauce and paprika. Then everything goes in a pot to boil.

2. Shan Yellow Rice Cake with Tomato Sauce

Shan Yellow RiceShan Yellow RiceThis is one of the dishes, when tasted, gets glued to your memory and taste buds forever.

For cooking the rice, there is no trick, just wash it, add water, turmeric powder for the yellow color, salt and a little bit of chicken powder.

There are two different tomato sauces, one to mix with the rice and the other to put on top of the rice cake.

For the first one, cut tomatoes in half, add salt and cook them in a pot until you have a sauce. Leave to cool. Remove the tomato skin. Then, you stir the yellow rice to make it a little bit sticky and mix it with this tomato sauce. Before pouring all the tomato sauce, separate some in a bowl and add turmeric oil. Use this mix to wet your hands and season the rice cake while you shape it.

The second tomato sauce to add on top of the cake is the key. To prepare it, heat oil and add onions, garlic, fermented soya bean powder, dried chili powder and turmeric powder. Then, add grained tomatoes, salt and chicken powder. At this point, you can also add coriander or spring onion and chicken or pork.

There is always another side sauce to add on top of the cake, turmeric and garlic sauce. Just heat oil, fry garlic and then add turmeric powder. Its crunchy-garlic touch is amazing. And any cracker like pork skin, bean or rice goes perfectly well with this dish.

3. Black Sesame Seed and Sticky Rice Cake (KhorPoat)

Shan KhorPoat

This is a very traditional snack in Shan State made with purple rice, black and round sesame seeds and salt.

It is really interesting to see how they prepare it. They, place the cooked rice into a stone “bowl” situated on the ground and add black round sesame seeds (already mashed) and salt. Then there is a “wooden machine” that smashes and mixes it to form the dough.

To sell it, they separate the dough into small portions of the same size and wrap it in the banana leaf so that it doesn’t dry.

The most popular and tasty way of having it is fried or barbequed, although you can also eat it raw. It is usually eaten in winters and served with brown sugar or jaggery on the side. It only costs between 100-200 kyats ($0.1 – 0.2).

Content and Picture Courtesy – Mr. Juan Gallardo, Writer at Myanmar Travel Essentials

Juan has traveled extensively to discover everything about Burmese cuisine, tasting traditional dishes cooked for him by the locals. It is these amazing dishes, the warmth of the people and the beauty of the land that is captured in his book “Delicious Myanmar”.

Longwa Village : One House, Two Countries

The state of Nagaland in India is home to a wondrous phenomenon that one would rarely see anywhere else in the world. In this state lies a village called Longwa which has a house that can be considered to spread over two countries – India and Myanmar. Towards Myanmar, this house falls in the Mon state as the boundary between India and Myanmar passes across this village and divides this house into two parts which fall into two parts. This house is owned by the hereditary chief or the king of the Konyak Naga tribe known as “The Angh”. The Angh of Longwa village has 60 wives and he rules over more than 70 villages extended up to Myanmar.

Traditional Naga Tribal Beads

A Chief of Konyak Tribe in his Traditional Outfit
A Chief of Konyak Tribe in his Traditional Outfit

The people living in this village move freely between India and Myanmar and do not need a visa. Even one of the sons of this village’s chief has joined the army of Myanmar. So, technically these villagers have dual citizenship for both India and Myanmar. Besides the chief, some other Konyak families have their kitchen in Myanmar while they sleep in India. The Konyak tribe, which lives in Longwa village, holds the largest numbers among the sixteen officially recognized tribes in Nagaland. The Konyak Naga speaks the Tibetan-Myanmarese dialect with every village having a self-modified version. Some people speak another version too which is known as the Nagamese language and is a mixture of Naga and Assamese.

Traditional Naga Tribal Beads
Traditional Naga Tribal Beads

The Konyak tribe is very famous for their tattooed inked faces and they always wear some traditional jewelry. Most of the men wear a brass skull necklace and they still use hornbill beaks, elephant tusks, horns, and skulls to decorate their houses. The arrival of Christianmissionaries has somewhat helped to bring the people living in this region closer to each other. The religion has now become the cohesive bond between the Nagas and has helped them to refrain from constant fighting with each other.

In the village of Longwa, there is a feeling of oneness among people and boundaries between two different countries seem to have dissolved. The emotional connect between the Nagas living on both sides of the border is very strong. We all know that boundaries were not created by God but are a human intervention. This village shows that it is possible to create a world where boundaries do not create any conflict. This is a very important lesson that we can learn from Longwa village.

– Ranjit Barthakur
Founding Chairman
Myanmar Matters

Burmese Food could be the next Global Culinary Phenomenon

Myanmar’s rise from the ashes of political turmoil, cultural stagnancy and severe isolation is a monumental historic feat. The ushering in of democracy has adequately released it from the unsparing shackles of military suppression and has catapulted it onto the expansive path of progress, aggressive aspirations, development and integration with the mainstream global canvas.

Htamin Jin, Burmese Rice
Htamin Jin, Burmese Rice

Buried in its shadowy past has been its most delectable and distinct food experience, popularly known as the Burmese cuisine. Inhabited by various ethnicities and nationalities, Burmese food specialty varies from region to region; each region serving a specific delicacy with their own recipe and style of cooking. In effect, a trek through Myanmar’s coast towards the inland or traversing the northern and southern regions of Myanmar are sure to delight one’s epicurean journey.

An authentic Burmese palette blends in varied flavors – hot, sweet, sour and salty, by serving multiple side dishes and accompaniments along with the main dish. For example, bitter leaves, dried chilies and salty fish paste may accompany a mild curry. It is this richness that makes it so unique and appetizing, and worthy of being placed on the global cuisine frontier.


Situated on the crossroads of gigantic civilizations of China and India, and bordering the countries of Laos, Thailand and Bangladesh, Myanmar has naturally and inadvertently acquired their distinct characters and culinary influence, while exploring and retaining its own novelty. From the gamut of Chinese dumplings and boiled vegetables to the Indian inspired curries, samosa and biryani, Myanmar staple food has remained constant for years: rice.

From driving the country’s economy as being world’s largest exporter, rice has become the bedrock diet for many people in Myanmar. Htamin Jin in Burmese, rice is usually served with curry, soup and multiple condiments that a Burmese cuisine is characterized of. Either boiled or relished as flat noodles, from being a breakfast or a light snack to being savored as a dessert on the streets, it remains the backbone of any Burmese meal.

Rice noodles or locally known as Mohinga or Mohinka. It is a favorite dish among the locals, enjoyed as breakfast and also as a filler light snack in between meals. These round rice noodles are served in fish paste and shallot broth with a hint of onion garlic adding to the flavor. Topped with veggies, boiled eggs, sliced banana pith and akyaw fritters, it is usually sprinkled with dried chili, lime and coriander. Its preparation varies throughout the region, depending upon the availability of ingredients.

Laphet Thoke
Laphet Thoke

 A salad for Burmese people is an aggregation and experimentation with diverse elements. An unusual mixture of everything which is crunchy, salty, spicy and sour is concocted as a salad. Laphet Thoke, the most popular and thoroughly enjoyed salad constitutes pickled green tea leaves interfused with amalgamation of sauces, and crunchy and sour assortments; sesame, shrimps, ginger, lime, fish sauce, peanut oil, peas, nuts etcetera. It can be served as a snack or accompany a plate of rice.

Nan gyi Thoke
Nan gyi Thoke

Nan gyi Thoke, dry rice noodles in the shape of spaghetti is also a salad based dish, relished with chicken, fish curry and garnished with chickpea flour, chilies and turmeric.

Shan Noodles
Shan Noodles

The Northern interiors of Myanmar are famous for Shan Noodles, reflecting country’s predominant Buddhist group’s delectable food trails. Served in chicken or pork broth, it is seasoned with garlic oil and sesame with pickled vegetables. In comparison to southern or coastal Burmese noodles, Shan noodles are bland and simple in texture.

Khow Suey
Khow Suey

Another dish that exhibits Shan specialty and deserves to be mentioned is fish rice or commonly called Shan style rice. Served with the sides of raw garlic and leek roots, it’s oily and is cooked in turmeric.

Curried noodle soup, Khow Suey, is another dish fundamental to Burmese cuisine. Its ingredients involve coconut milk, curried chicken and egg noodles. Like any other Burmese dish, this too gets accompanied by disparate condiments. However, as per the availability of ingredients, its recipe can be tailored to one’s preference.

Tea houses cannot be given a miss while talking about the eclectic Burmese cuisine. These are the small and scattered tea and snack hubs brimming with voices greeting political affairs and social customs with great gusto and zest. Bursting with a medley of Chinese, Indian and local dishes; noodles, steam buns, samosas, the local tradition of tea shops have evolved as an integral part of the Burmese cuisine.

Burmese desserts, colloquially termed as moun, usually gets its sweet flavor from its corresponding ingredients than sugar itself; sticky rice, fruits, grated coconuts act as sweeteners. Moreover, they are relished as snacks like semolina flour with coconut milk, pancakes with raisons etcetera.

If the food trajectory of Myanmar feeds the nonvegetarians quite sufficiently, vegetarians are served adequately well too with fresh vegetables and fruits available abundantly. Also, the Buddhist sanctity prevalent in the country makes vegan diet an essential part of everyday life of Myanmar.

With Burmese bounty ready to be served on the world platter, and geared to exhibit its vast regional spread through plethora of its native treats and cuisine, the World awaits Myanmar’s food treasures to satiate its South East Asian appetite in glory all renewed and rediscovered.

A Visit To Myanmar Temples: Experience Holiness and Thanaka

A Visit To Myanmar Temples- Experience Holiness and Thanaka
Shwezigon Temple – Bagan, Myanmar

Myanmar is a Buddhist majority country where Theravada Buddhism is the most practiced religious tradition. This is a
place where pagodas, monasteries, and various other historical structures related to Buddhism thrive in abundance.
When you walk around in Myanmar you will get to see the stunning site of monks dressed in their traditional red robes all
around. In Myanmar, each male is expected to serve as a monk twice in his life. The first time a person joins a monastery
as a novice and the second time he is expected to become an ordained monk.



The people of Myanmar show their true love and respect for Buddha and his symbols not only by keeping him and his teachings in their heart but also through their actions. Buddhists of Myanmar buy gold leaves and apply them to pagodas and Buddhist statues.The magnificent gold-plated Shwedagon Pagoda can be seen shining
from anywhere in Yangon. Both rich and poor are equally devoted Buddhists and they believe that building pagodas is a very noble
act. Rich people often fund the building of these pagodas. When pagodas get old or damaged they are quickly restored to their original splendor. Numerous people visit pagodas every day and they always follow the rule of going barefoot.


Besides the pagodas and monks another thing that you will immediately notice in Myanmar is a lot of people walking around with their faces painted with a yellowish powder. This yellowish substance is called thanaka and it is an inherent part of Myanmar’s culture. When you visit a Buddhist temple, the attendant there might apply it to your face as a ritual. When applied to skin it feels cool and gives a wonderful fragrance. The people of Myanmar believe it is good for the skin and it matches their complexion very well.

Guide To The Growing Punk Music Scene

Names in Myanmar Punk

punk crowd

Punk music is on the rise in Myanmar, especially in Yangon. There are no specific ‘punk’ venues but the scene is large enough that several spaces hold concerts when organized. Rough Cut, Pansodan Scene, Pin Lel Studio and of course People’s Park. The #WDGAF show at People’s Park last Friday was a predominately a punk lineup that attracted a large attendance despite the ban on alcohol sales past 10pm. What is known as ‘underground music’ has united young musicians from all different genres. In light of the popular concert, MYANMORE has made a list of some local punk bands that people should check out if interested in exploring this growing section of youth culture. You can catch some of these up-and-coming groups at Pin Lel Studio in North Dagon on March 26th. Check for more information

Side Effect

Arguably the most famous indie punk bank in Myanmar, Side Effect took the stage singing about freedom and socio-political issues. They have been active for about a decade and during that time they have performed shows in Berlin, Germany and the South by SouthWest festival in the USA, giving them international popularity. They are not a pure punk band, they also mix with garage rock, power pop and back-to-the-basics rock n roll – a style similar to the Strokes or the Libertines.

Big Bag

Big Bag is the first local Punk Band to breakthrough and attracted thousands last Friday as the headliner for the #WDGAF concert

Big Bag is the first local Punk Band to breakthrough and attracted thousands last Friday as the headliner for the #WDGAF concert. Myanmar Teenagers were the main fans of the band at first as they introduced an alternative style of music, which ultimately let Myanmar youth explore a new genre. The lead singer and guitarist Kyar Pout started in the town of Hlaing and has since then brought his music to Yangon. His bandmates Ye Zaw Myo, bassist, and Mung Boih, drummer, help write much of the music and are featured as part of the band’s identity.


Skunx is quickly becoming one of the top bands in Myanmar by integrating punk with melodies reminiscent with hip-hop. Imagine Anthrax meets Crystal Castles. The group opened for Big Bag this past weekend and did not disappoint the packed public park. The Mandalay group formed from two discontinued bands, the lead singer being Eugene Skunx. Skunx writes songs about every topics that most young people can relate to while also touching on social issues. The songs cover politics, lifestyle, education and even sex. They target Burmese youth with the goal of giving hope to those who feel stuck.

No U Turn

No U-Turn is one of the most active bands in Yangon, they played at People’s Park last Friday and will also be playing at Jam It! Kulture in a couple weeks.  They have a ska sound that may remind some of the American band, Rancid. The group has been playing and making music in the underground scene for over 10 years and have released three albums. His long standing presence in Myanmar has given the band has quite a following that know the lyrics to his songs.

The Myth

The Myth was founded and currently led by female singer Ja Som in 2011. They identify their genre as Pop/Rock whilst adding occasional hard rock guitar licks into their songs. They debuted their first EP album in 2014 “One More Chance” by releasing it on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and Myanmar Music Store. The album consists of 6 songs including the  title track ‘One More Chance’, which later became a hit. One More Chance has been featured on numerous TV channels of Myanmar. Currently, they are working on their LP album which will continue with their feminist trend.

The Rebel Riot

The Rebel Riot is the band that came into existence after the Saffron Revolution. The main reason for the formation of the band to fight oppression and corruption. The band uses music as a medium to fight against injustice. Their songs, Puppet Society (2013) and [Censored] Religious Rules (2014) highlight the problems they see in the country. Rebel Riot is now a three member group that have travelled throughout Southeast Asia.


Influenced by Swedish punk groups such as Anti Cimex, Skitslickers, Avskum, Moderad Likvktation and Totalitar, this crust punk band is the first band to ever play such kind of music. Formed in 2009, Kultureshock played local underground gigs all over. The song “Urban Rubbish” talks about how the people are living under the oppressed government and how low-life people are considered to be “trash”.They are considered a D-Beat band, meaning that their message is anti-war and anarchist.

Myanmar Metal: Metal and Punk are not the same thing. But there are some concerts that play both. 


Nightmare is a death-metal force not to be reckoned with. The band started as a group of friends who shared a similar taste in metal music. They got their influences from American bands such as Suicide Silence and Lamb of God. Their music is not typical metal music, which is usually about violence or horror. They focus on broken families and the dangers of satiating greed. They aim to give people with troubles a sense of self-respect and something that could light up in their dark times.

Last Days of Beethoven
Last Days of Beethoven is a death metal band made up of five people that bring an end to Beethoven’s “pleasant music”. They mainly sing songs that are about perseverance and not giving up in the face of problems. The songs preach to the people to be bogged down within religious and ethnic conflicts. While being a metal band, LDB sees their message being about peace and harmony.

History Of Burma

Early Burma

History Of BurmaThe Nation we know as Burma was first formed during the goldenage of Pagan in the 11th century. King Anawratha ascended the throne in 1044, uniting Burma under his monarchy. His belief in Buddhism lead him to begin building the temples and pagodas for which the city of Pagan (above) is renowned. Pagan became the first capital of a Burmese kingdom that included virtually all of modern Burma. The golden age of pagan reached its peak in during the reign of Anawratha’s successor,Kyanzitta (1084-1113), another devout Buddhist, under whom it aquired the name
” City of four million pagodas “.

Under Colonial Rule

Although Burma was at times divided into independent states, a series of monarchs attempted to establish their absolute rule, with varying degrees of success. Eventually, an expansionist British Government took advantage of Burma’s political instability. After three Anglo-Burmese wars over a period of 60 years, the British completed their colonization of the country in 1886, Burma was immediately annexed as a province of British India, and the British began to permeate the ancient Burmese culture with foreign elements. Burmese customs were often weakened by the imposition of British traditions.

The British also further divided the numerous ethnic minorities by favouring some groups, such as the Karen, for positions in the military and in local rural administrations. During the 1920s, the first protests by Burma’s intelligentsia and Buddhist monks were launched against British rule. By 1935, the Students Union at Rangoon University was at the forefront of what would evolve into an active and powerful movement for national independence. A young law student Aung San, executive-committee member and magazine editor for the Students Union, emerged as the potential new leader of the national movement. In the years that followed, he successfully organized a series of student strikes at the university, gaining the support of the nation.

Independence and Democracy

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Aung San seized the opportunity to bring about Burmese independence. He and 29 others, known as the Thirty Comrades, left Burma to undergo military training in Japan. In 1941, they fought alongside the Japanese who invaded Burma. The Japanese promised Aung San that if the British were defeated, they would grant Burma her freedom. When it became clear that the Japanese would not follow through with their promise, Aung San quickly negotiated an agreement with the British to help them defeat the Japanese.

History Of BurmaHailed as the architect of Burma’s new-found independence by the majority of Burmese, Aung San was able to negotiate an agreement in January 1947 with the British, under which Burma would be granted total independence from Britain. Although a controversial figure to some ethnic minorities, he also had regular meetings with ethnic leaders throughout Burma in an effort to create reconciliation and unity for all Burmese.

As the new leader drafted a constitution with his party’s ministers in July 1947, the course of Burmese history was dramatically and tragically altered. Aung San and members of his newly-formed cabinet were assasinated when an opposition group with machine guns burst into the room. A member of Aung San’s cabinet, U Nu, was delegated to fill the position suddenly left vacant by Aung San’s death. A Burma was finally granted independence on January 4, 1948, at 4:20am – a moment selected most auspicious by an astrologer.

For the next ten years, Burma’s fledging democratic government was continuously challenged by communist and ethnic groups who felt under-represented in the 1948 constitution. Periods of intense civil war destabilized the nation. Although the constitution declared that minority states could be granted some level of independence in ten years, their long-awaited day of autonomy never arrived. As the economy floundered, U Nu was removed from office in 1958 by a caretaker government led by General Ne Win, one of Aung San’s fellow thakins. In order to “restore law and order” to Burma, Ne Win took control of the whole country including the minority states, forcing them to remain under the jurisdiction of the central government. Although he allowed U Nu to be re-elected Prime Minister in 1960, two years later he staged a coup and solidified his position as Burma’s military dictator.

Burma Under a Dictatorship

History Of BurmaNe Win’s new Revolutionary Coucil suspended the constitution and instituted authoritarian military rule. Full attention turned to the military defeat of communist

and ethnic-minority rebel groups. The country was closed off from the outside world as the new despot promoted an isolation ideology based on what he called the Burmese Way to Socialism. Superstitious, xenophobic and ruthless, for the next three decades Ne Win set a thriving nation on a disatrious path of cultural, environmental and economic ruin. Outside visitors were few and restricted to Rangoon, Mandalay and a handful of other tightly controlled towns close to the central plains. Insurgency remained endemic and in many areas of Burma armed struggle became a way of life.

The People’s Demands Are Met With Bullets

In July 1988 Ne Win suddenly announced that he was preparing to leave the stage. Seeing at last a possible escape from military rule, economic decline and routine human rights abuses, thousands of people took to the streets of Rangoon.

Demonstrations broke out across the country during the so-called "Democracy Summer" that followed. But on August 8, 1988 troops began a four day massacre, firing into crowds of men, women and children gathered in Rangoon. At least 10,000 demonstrators were killed across the country.

Demonstrations broke out across the country during the so-called "Democracy Summer" that followed. But on August 8, 1988 troops began a four day massacre, firing into crowds of men, women and children gathered in Rangoon. At least 10,000 demonstrators were killed across the country.Thousands of students and democracy advocates fled to the border regions under ethnic control and forged alliances with ethnic resistance movements. Some of these groups include the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), the All Burma Student Democratic Front, the Democratic Alliance of Burma, and the longstanding National Democratic Front situated in Manerplaw (the former headquarters of the Karen National Union which fell to SLORC in January 1995). Together these groups formed the National Council of the Union of Burma, an umbrella organization representing all the groups.A Leader Emerges

It just so happened that during this time of unrest in 1988, Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of independence hero Aung San, who had been living abroad, returned to Burma to care for her ailing mother. Her devotion kept her there and brought her into the political foray. Attempting to quell international condemnation for its violence, the military announced it would hold multi-party elections. Under the persuasion of students and others opposed to the regime, Aung San Suu Kyi and like-minded colleagues founded the National League for Democracy (NLD). Her party quickly gathered country-wide support. Just when democratic changes seemed imminent Ne Win commandeered the army from behind the scenes to take over the country in a staged “coup”.

On September 18, 1988, control of the country was handed to a 19-member State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) and a vicious crackdown followed. Although committed to non-violence, Aung San Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest in July 1989 for “endangering the state” and kept there for the next six years. Desperate to improve their image and generate foreign investment, the SLORC went ahead on May 27, 1990 and held the multi-party elections they had promised. Despite the SLORC’s severe repression against members of opposition parties (Aung San Suu Kyi was kept under house arrest) and the complete lack of freedom of expression throughout the country, Suu Kyi’s NLD party swept to victory with 82% of the vote. Surprised and outraged, the SLORC refused to acknowledge the election results and has retained its repressive grip on power ever since.

Current Situation

Eventhough Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in May of 2002 the military has refused to relinquish power. The generals have not engaged in any sort of dialogue. The humanitarian situation in Burma is disasterous and civil war still ravages the border areas. The effect of military rule has been a severly impoverished and underdevelopmed nation, Burma has rated as the second least developed nation on the United Nations Development Index. Peace, democracy and the most basic human rights do not exist. Millions have been forced to flee due to military rule and are scattered all over the world longing for the day when they can return to their homeland and be re-united with the families and live in peace.

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