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Kayin New Year promotes unity and tradition

Myanmar Catholic priest tells people to follow their culture

Young Kayin youth performing a traditional dance during their New Year celebration Young Kayin youth performing a traditional dance during their New Year celebration
  • ucanews.com reporter, Yangon
  • Myanmar
  • January 6, 2011
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Kayin tribes must follow in the footsteps of their ancestors who were simple, righteous and faithful, a Catholic priest in Myanmar said during a New Year celebration that marked the 2,750th year in the Karen calendar.

More than 1,000 people yesterday joined the Kayin New Year festivity, where Father Thomas Saw Htoo Htoo, parish priest of Saints Peter and Paul Church in Yangon concelebrated Mass with 12 Kayin priests.

Joseph U Kyaing, the organizer, said every Kayin New Year, local people gather regardless of religion to sing, talk and eat together. The ethnic Kayins perform traditional dances and eat the customary sticky rice and curry.

“I do really believe that we will have more unity and able to work closely for the benefit of our people,” he said.

An exhibition to inform people about the values of their culture and literature was also arranged, said U Kyaing.

“Future generations must realize that it is their responsibility and need to work for sustaining their culture and literature,” said Mahn Shwe Pyi Aye, a professor.

Meanwhile, on the same day, another Kayin New Year celebration was held at the Mawlamyine Holy Family Cathedral in Mon State, where 500 Kayin tribes of different religions joined.

“It is our responsibility to be united, to love one another, to observe and keep our culture and literature,” said Doctor Saw Htoo War, president of the Mawlamyine Kayin New Year celebration committee.

The Kayin or Karen tribes have been celebrating their New Year since 1938.

Believed to have migrated from the Tibetan plateau centuries ago, they are now mainly farmers concentrated in the hills of eastern Myanmar’s Kayin state and the Irrawaddy delta region in southwestern part of the country. Some have also migrated to live and work in Yangon and other cities.

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MY12734.1635
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