Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The week-long Kachin Manaw festival, sacred for the ethnic Kachin people started yesterday in Myitkyinar, the capital of Kachin State.
The festival jointly organized by Christian Missions and Kachin Traditional Culture Committee will be held till 11 January alongside the 61st Kachin State Day.
"Especially the Manaw dance will start on 8 January and all ethnic Kachin tribes will perform the special dance with music," the Kachin Traditional Cultural Committee Manaw Festival Organizing Committee leader U Lamai Gwanja said told Mizzima.
"The Manaw festival is very important to us both in terms of religion and organization. In this festival, we can build unity by joining together and eating together here. It is priceless for all of us. I organize this festival every year whatever difficulties and constraints may face us," he added.
January 10 is Kachin State Day. In this festival, the Ministry of Industry and many other private companies join in and hold their sales festival besides there are casino and beauty pageants contests for both males and females.
It is learnt that the 'Iron Cross' music band and many singers including Myo Gyi, Wai Wai, R Zarni, Naw Naw, Yin Phone, Mee Mee Khe, Song Thing Par, L Saizi will perform in the festival starting tomorrow night.
According to tradition, the sacrifice of cattle, traditional liquor and fruits to Madai Deity at the altar must be performed with the opening ceremony at this festival.
"Over 1,300 KIO members will come and join this festival tomorrow, on Kachin State Day. We celebrate this festival for our beloved Kachin State apart from being the traditional festival," KIO Joint Secretary Dr. Tu Ja said.
The festival organizers said that over 500,000 people from nearby Mogaung, Mohnyin, Namti, Hopin and Bamo join this festival every year besides people from 13 townships in Kachin State.
This year, other Kachin ceasefire groups and the junta's Northern Command new Commander Maj. Gen. Soe Win are likely to join the festival.
The first Manaw festival was inaugurated on 10 January 1948 just after Burma got independence from British colonial rule in Sitapu Ward, Myitkyinar.
But Ko Awng Wa from Kachin Development Network in exile said that these festivals have begun to lack essence in the reign of the military junta.
"Previously Kachin State Day festivals were full of meaning and essence. Now these festivals have become just show under the junta. Previously the speech on Kachin State could be delivered at these festivals. Now the junta no longer gives permission to deliver such speeches. So the festival has become a farce to please the ruling generals," he said.