Category Archives: Culture

BIHU FESTIVAL CELEBRATED WITH GREAT ENTHUSIASM IN ASSAM

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In India, just as the New Year starts, the month of January brings many harvest festivals along with it. Some of these festivals include Pongal in Tamil Nadu; Lohri in Punjab; and Makar Sankranti in northern and western regions of India. The North Eastern state of Assam is also home to one such festival called Bhogali Bihu. It’s a colourful and fun filled festival which is thoroughly enjoyed by all the people of Assam. On this day political leaders greet common people and sweet words containing messages of tolerance and love are spoken to each other. All the different communities residing in Assam come together and celebrate their oneness with nature.

This year, the Bihu festival was celebrated on January 15 and it was just as wonderful as it is every year. Over the years modernization has started touching and creeping into the North Eastern lifestyle. Some of these aspects had an effect on the Bihu festival as well and resulted in some what changes being made to the traditional dresses, songs, and dancing. For this year’s Bihu festival, Saodou Asom Bihu Sanmilani Somonnoy Rokkhi Samiti issued a list of rules and pleaded people to go back to the original traditions and culture.

The appeal made by Saodou Asom Bihu Sanmilani Somonnoy Rokkhi Samiti had some effect and this year’s Bihu festival turned out to be more traditional and culturally pure than it has been in the last few years. “Magh Bihu” is a festival of enjoyment through singing, dancing, and feasting on mouth-watering dishes.  Despite refuting some of the modern influences it had picked up with time, this year’s festival was still a wonderful and extremely entertaining affair.

On the eve of January 15, men went to the field and built a makeshift cottage which is called Bhelaghar and a bonfire called Meji. At night community feats were held all over Assam and at these gatherings people gathered around Meji and sang Bihu songs, played dhol, and participated in various games. The next morning all the men took a bath and then commenced to set fire to Meji.  All the others gathered around the burning Meji and threw rice cakes and betel nuts in the fire. While doing so they offered their prayers to the God of Fire and marked the end of the harvesting year.

30TH DASTKARI HAAT CRAFT BAZAAR AT DELHI HAAT PRESENTS ARTISANS FROM MYANMAR

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Dastkaari Haat Craft Bazaar was hosted at Dilli Haat, New Delhi from January 1 to 15. This is an annual event organized each year by Dastkari Haat Samiti and this year marks the 30th anniversary of the event. India’s Ministry of External Affairs and the Embassy of India in Myanmar support this event to encourage and support the traditional craftsmen from Myanmar and India.  It also serves the purpose of bringing these two countries together and enhancing their friendship. Not only do craftsmen get to showcase their work but along with that they also find a great opportunity for networking and learning from each other.

This year, at the 30th Dastkaari Haat Craft Bazaar artisans from Myanmar presented traditional Pathein umbrellas, puppets, velvet slippers, lacquer work and various types of jade items all of which were loved by everyone. Indian craftsmen came from various states and exhibited their traditional skills in their full glory. People who visited the vent got to enjoy various traditional crafts such as shell craft, basketry, mat weaving, handloom textile weaving, hyacinth grass weaving, jewellery and many more. Representatives from exports and handicrafts as well as Foreign Ministry of India were also present and they described this craft bazaar as a beneficial event for everyone involved.

A Crafts and Skill Development Workshop was also organized which resulted in the creation of various new, innovative designs. The workshop also provided an additional wonderful opportunity to artisans from both the countries to enhance learn new techniques, improve their skills, build useful links, and form new friendships. One of the main purposes of this event is to provide more opportunities to craftsmen from Myanmar by providing them more exposure and enabling them to make better quality products. Visitors and craftsmen were also treated to a visual and auditory feast by various folk artists. Musical performance by Langa group and Kalbelia gypsy dance from Rajasthan, the Bhavai folk theatre from Gujrat, and the tribal martial Chhau dance from West Bengal won all the hearts.

FLOATING BOOKSTORE LOGOS HOPE REACHES YANGON

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Logos Hope, the floating bookstore which travels the world, reached Myanmar on October 2, 2015. The ship would be staying at Yangon’s Ahlone International Port Terminal and it will be open to public from October 3 to 14. The timings are Monday to Saturday 10 am-6 pm and on Sunday 1 pm – 6 pm. MV Logos Hope has a huge collection of more than 5000 books in English language to offer and it is providing them at very affordable prices. You will be able to find a wide range of subjects such as science, medicine, philosophy, arts, sports, languages, cookery, and hobbies. Various kinds of academic texts, children’s titles, dictionaries, and atlases will also be available for sale.

Mr. George Verwer and Mr. Dale Garman launched Logos Hope in 2009 with a vision to take knowledge to all corners of the world.  Both of these gentlemen hail from the United States and they hope this venture of theirs will promote cross cultural understanding and play a role in providing them access to useful training that can help them in living more effective lives.  Before putting into service, the ship was given a major facelift and it underwent invasive restoration in multiple locations including Croatia, Germany, and Denmark. Ever since it started operating, Logos Hope has visited around 60 countries so far and it has plans to take number much higher.

This is the first time that Logos Hope is visiting Myanmar’s Yangon city. However, this ship also has a sister ship named Doulos which visited Yangon in 2002.  Doulos received a very warm welcome upon her arrival and was honored by the visit of more than 13,500 visitors. Logos Hope is newer and larger as compared to its sister ship and it also has a much larger crew consisting of 400 volunteers. The ship provides a very comfortable browsing experience in an air conditioned surroundings and also has a café area. The welcome area of the ship will display a short movie that will introduce the ship to the visitors. Visitors will also be able to explore and enjoy the Visitor Experience Deck.

MYANMAR’S PRECIOUS STONES A HIT AT TRADE FAIR IN INDIA

While many in the city are talking about Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Myanmar and what it means for Indo – Myanmar relations, traders from India’s eastern neighbour at the Indian International Trade Fair say their precious stones are a big hit among Delhiites.

The prices of the jewelry and precious stones like diamond, jade, ruby and emerald vary between Rs.2,000 and Rs.200,000.The Myanmar pavilion, famous for its precious s tone jewelry,were heavily flocked by women jostling to find a pair of earrings or a pendant that will best suit them.

The 34th edition of the IITF is said to have attracted nearly two million visitors from across the country and around the world.

“DANDAREE” LAUNCHED IN BAGAN

“Dandaree”, a visual masterpiece, features striking presentation styles, unmatched light and sound production, and multimedia techniques synchronized with stage performances by more than a hundred talented dancers, actors and performers who come together to tell the story of Myanmar’s proud history. Dandaree” will be shown during the highseason for tourism in Bagan, from November to March every year.

Each scene reflects the unique elegance of Myanmar and its people through music, language, folk wisdom and Myanmar dance, puppeteers, martial artists, Chinlone shows, and more. “Dandaree” offers an once-in-a-lifetime chance to witness the heritage of Myanmar in all its glory at the Bagan Golden Palace. One of the three most beautiful palaces and a must-see for foreign tourists visiting the kingdom of Bagan.

NEW FREEDOM FOR MYANMAR’S ARTISTS

Myanmar’s new quasi-civilian government abolished the military censorship board in 2012, fueling a liberalization of the arts. Subjects that were once forbidden are now commonplace. The new freedom of expression has turned much art away from the traditional and military-sanctioned subjects of pagodas and landscapes into political ones like the opposition leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and her father, General Aung San, the revolutionary hero.

The work of dozens of local artists once only known in small circles is now receiving ample attention at home, especially in Yangon, where the art scene has grown from just a few galleries in 2012 to more than 30 today.As the local market is flooded with new works, once-forbidden art is also entering the international circuit.

Earlier in Myanmar, basic art supplies such as acrylics were scarce in the market and artists struggled to make a living, many taking second jobs. “It was very difficult back then,” said MyoNyuntKhin, another local artist. “There was no market to sell work other than illustrating for journals and there were no studios. I had no place to paint.”

Some artists are experimenting with well-known styles like Cubism, while others are looking to the distant past for inspiration: using techniques like embroidery and gold threads on tapestries to reconstruct mythology.

Despite the encouraging direction of Myanmar’s burgeoning art scene, some believe there is still a long way to go. But as modern artwork and tourism grow, new high-end private galleries like TS1, which is housed in an old transit shed, have also begun to spring up in Yangon.

BEST PUPPET ANIMATION AWARD – HTWE OO MYANMAR TRADITIONAL PUPPET THEATER

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The Yangon-based marionette troupe HtweOo Myanmar Traditional Puppet Theater has swept the award for the Best Puppet Animation award at the Harmony World Puppet Carnival held in Bangkok. The Burmese puppeteers outshone the competition and emerged winners over 160 other puppetry troupes from almost 70 countries around the world. They were awarded a cash prize of US$1,000. The Burmese puppeteers presented the famed art of yoke thé at the carnival, bringing to life the story of the noble princess Thambula in their drama “ThawtithenaThambula”.

The performance also included choreographed dances that complimented the ballad. The troupe cut short the yoke thé performance at the carnival to limit it to an hour, even as the original format of a yoke the recital runs through the night. The director of the HtweOo theatre, Khin Maung Htwe said that they shortened the puppet show to fit the time slots and that taking into account the multi-cultural audience. Yoke thé, which is often referred to as poetry in motion, has once again started gaining popularity in Burma after a waning spell in the past. This art of marionette puppetry, nurtured by royal patronage, emerged as a popular form of entertainment for a wider audience in Burma connecting them with some of the most treasured folklores passed on through generations. Yoke thé, which literally translates into “miniatures,” embellishes intricately designed miniature puppets, employed by 18 (for male characters) or 19 (for female characters) wires with each puppet controlled only by one puppeteer. The Burmese art of puppetry, said to have been the preserved form of entertainment for royalty once upon a time, is often known to bring to life the fables and themes from Hindu and Buddhist mythology as also the captivating love stories.

We are filled with wonder at the sight of the puppeteer’s dexterity in performing the marionette’s movements like real human beings. This also clearly reveals the high standard of Myanmar Puppets as well as the real image of Myanmar arts.

BOGYOKE MARKET SELLING BURMESE ART AND SOUVENIRS, MYAMMAR
BOGYOKE MARKET SELLING BURMESE ART AND SOUVENIRS, MYAMMAR

KASON – BANYAN TREE WATERING CEREMONY

In Myanmar,the traditional festival of pouring water on the Bohdi tree is held in Kason. Tree worship was one of the prehistoric beliefs and it was quite prevalent in Stone Ages. Later, it was passed down to early civilizations. Myanmar indigenous races have the custom of worshipping tree-god (the guardian spirit of tree) called Yokka-soe who is believed to be benovolent to humans. On the occasion of Kason festival, it is customary practice of Myanmar Buddhists to move fish and turtles from nearby dry ponds and lakes to places where there is abundant water. This merit is regarded as a life-saving act of charity.