Culture & Heritage

Friday 30th August 2012

Friday the 30th of August was a joyful day of festivities in the Mae Sot area. The Karen community celebrated traditional wrist tying day and the Islamic community held Mother’s Day celebrations.

Karen Wrist Tying Day

Girls wearing beautiful Karen dresses and on the right a senior student is tying string on the wrists of younger students.

Girls wearing beautiful Karen dresses and on the right a senior student is tying string on the wrists of younger students.

Karen Wrist Tying Day is held on a date in August, depending on the Karen calendar. The action of wrist tying symbolises luck and unity of the Karen people. Family members come together during this time; children who have moved away go back to their parents and grandparents. Whilst wrist tying, a chant is said to bring the person good spirits. Although it is a time to unite Karen people, foreigners are invited to participate in the celebrations to demonstrate unity between Karen people and other nationalities.

Hsa Thoo Lei held a large wrist tying celebration on Friday 30th August. Students wore vibrant traditional outfits to school, as did the parents and local community who were invited to participate in the festivities. To commence the celebrations members of the Hsa Thoo Lei community spoke about the importance of wrist tying. After the speeches, students performed traditional Karen dances. Next, all senior members of the community formed a line and tied colourful pieces of string around the wrists of younger generations. This is to symbolise respect of older community members and to form a bond between generations. To conclude the celebrations Hsa Thoo Lei’s school band performed a number of traditional Karen songs.

When the formalities finished, students of all ages were given the opportunity to tie string around the wrists of friends and teachers. All students had a wonderful day with their friends and teachers.

Mothers’ Day

An older student was a fantastic MC for the event.

An older student was a fantastic MC for the event.

In another area of Mae Sot, the Islamic community celebrated Mothers’ Day. Phyo Khin Learning Centre held a ceremony in honour of local mothers. A stage was erected and the school was filled with guests, banners and decorations. Students hosted a superb talent show with acts involving dance and dramatic arts. Both girls and boys choreographed dances to popular Burmesesongs. They wore brilliant, colourful costumes, some traditional and some modern. Other students wrote and performed short plays which entertained the crowd.

These students danced to a traditional Burmese song.

These students danced to a traditional Burmese song.

After the show, students pinned white flowers onto their mother’s clothing as a sign of respect. This was emotional for mothers as their children were asking forgiveness for any wrong doing whilst also expressing love and gratitude. At the conclusion of the ceremony school teachers’ handed out mohinga (a popular Burmese fish and noodle dish) to families.

Teachers handing out mohinga to the school community.

Teachers handing out mohinga to the school community.

Student performances were of such a high standard that it not only showcased them, but also the teachers at Phyo Khin Learning Centre. They are dedicated to a quality education which encourages creativity and self expression. Also, it highlighted strong parent involvement and support for education.

 

Mothers in the audience, watching students perform on stage.

Mothers in the audience, watching students perform on stage.

For both Mae Sot communities, Friday 30th August was a celebration of culture and tradition.

Songkran: Water festival

Over the long school break during the hot season in Thailand there is one very important festival: Songkran (Water Festival). In Mae Sot it is impossible to stay dry at this time because everywhere that you go, people throw buckets of water at you! But Songkran also has a more serious side. According to Burmese culture, Water Festival is a time for us give respect and worship to older people and ask forgiveness for the mistakes that we have made towards them – and this who might include our parents, grandparents and teachers. At the same time, we offer some small presents.