"Union Day (or: Puppet Day?) in Kyaukme" Myanmar (Burma) Local Custom Tip by Bonobo2005

Myanmar (Burma) Local Customs: 149 reviews and 220 photos

  Shan dancing on stage (can someone translate?)
by Bonobo2005

During a busstop in the village of Kyaukme, in Northern Shan State, a local student told me about upcoming festivities for Union Day and he convinced me to get off the bus.

Sitting at a tea stall, watching the arrival of trucks full of people in their finest traditional dress. Coming from rural areas to attend the festival, they were extremely cheerful despite the rough trip (I spoke to one girl who spent 18 hours on the back of a truck to cover 140km).

The student invited me to his family house for diner, where I met his lovely parents, after which we set off the festival.

The building was packed to the roof with people. The first row, convenient fauteuils, was occupied by the Head of District and his staff, all in military uniform. The next 2 rows –bit less luxury chairs- by the local Tribes Lords, such as the Shan (and it’s army) and the Paluang.

We were kindly invited to have a seat on the second row, which we didn’t refuse of course. One by one the groups appeared on stage, performing traditional dancing and singing.

Although the shows were very colourful and the dancing authentic, I found the competition a bit of a puppet show.

It seemed that the texts were written solely to suit the military regime, waving Myanma and Shan State flags on stage brotherly. Before the tribes people entered stage they had to bow in front of the highest ranked officer. The more national flags, the more applause from the Uniforms. It felt odd and downward fake when you know they must hate each other.

Someone told me that the Shan Tribes and the Military signed a covenant in which was agreed upon formal power for the Military Regime and economical independence for the Shan (including the enormous production of opium and heroin for mainly the Chinese market). But this seems to be the only agreement preventing the parties from fighting a more bloody civil war.

The next morning I continued to Hsipaw, 1 hour further on the road to China. But the stopover was worth it!

Union Day is celebrated on February 12

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 19, 2003
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