Nearly 10,000 people attended the opening ceremony of the Shan New Year celebrations in Kengtung, Shan State East capital, presided over by Maj Gen Than Tun Oo this morning, according to SHAN sources.
Than Tun Oo, who donated K 1 million ($ 1,176) for the event, reportedly told the people that since Burma has returned to democracy, they are now free to pursue their cultural and traditional activities.
His greeting in Shan “Mysoong Kha! (Progress and Prosperity!)” was welcomed by roaring clapping of hands.
Sai Yawd, Chairman of the Organizing Committee, and Sai Aung Tun, Shans’ most respected scholar, were next to deliver their opening speeches.
The ceremonial ribbons were then cut by Sai Long Hseng, Shan State Assembly chairman, and Hkun Htun Oo, Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) leader.
Among the attendees of the opening ceremony were Hkun Hsang Lu and Hkun Hsang La of Mongla, Sao Gai Fa of Hseng Keow, Sao Pawng Kher and Sao Sai Lu of Shan State Army (SSA).
The festival’s highlights, apart from the nightly traditional music and dances, are the cultural exhibitions and the seminar on cultural heritage to be held tomorrow.
Presenters reportedly include familiar names in Thailand: Charnvit Kasetsiri, Dulyapak Preecharach and Ratanaporn Setthakul. At least 19 scholars from Cambodia, India, Japan and Burma are expected to present their papers there.
Kengtung was established in 1253 by King Mangrai of Chiang Saen (Kenghsen), who also founded Chiangrai and Chiangmai. The Shan New Year, which falls on 14 December this year, marks the First Waxing Day of the First Lunar Month of the Shan year.