Huge celebrations to ring in the Shan New Year will be held in the eastern Shan State town of Kengtong from December 12 to 14, according to an official from the Mong Tai Army (MTA).
The festivities will mark the arrival of year 2107 on the Shan calendar, U Sai Khwan Main from the MTA’s political department told The Myanmar Times last week.
“Shan New Year is celebrated every year in every part of the world where there are Shan people,” he said. “December 14 is the start of Luen Zeing Pi Mai, the first month of the Shan calendar. Farmers celebrate at this time, after harvesting their rice from the paddy fields.”
He said the celebration is a time for Shan people to “come together to discuss, rethink and recheck the past, and to make preparations for the coming year”.
New Year’s Eve is marked by traditional Shan dances, singing, fashion shows with traditional Shan clothing, and other performances. Shan food and traditional handicrafts are also sold by vendors.
U Sai Khwan Main said that starting about two months before the celebration, young people go around to houses — singing New Year’s songs and playing Shan drums and other instruments along the way — to collect donations to be used for the festival and for Shan literature organisations.
“In most years these celebrations are held separately, from state to state and city to city, but this year the central committee of the Taunggyi-based Shan Literature and Culture Association, members of the 54 regional committees of the association, and Shan leaders from every part of Myanmar will gather in Kengtong to celebrate the New Year,” U Sai Khwan Main said.
The event’s programs will be managed by the Kengtong Shan Literature Organisation.
He said Shan people from Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, India, the United States and Europe have also been invited to attend, and the Restoration Council of Shan State based in Chaing Mai, Thailand, will be involved in the organisation.
The opening ceremony will be held on December 12. On the following morning, a seminar will be held on Shan literature and education, including a discussion on steps that can be taken to improve and promote these aspects of Shan culture.
Traditional dances, concerts by Shan singers, fashion shows and other performances are planned for the evening of December 13 and for the following afternoon. The fashion shows will feature more than 30 styles of traditional Shan dress, while the performances will include the Shan deer dance and the Shan kinnara and kinnari dance.
Also on December 14, donations will be given to monks and monasteries, and awards will be handed out to outstanding Shan students. Vendors from around the country will sell traditional dress, handicrafts, musical instruments, books and food.
“This is a good opportunity for us to meet Shan people frocvvm everywhere. We might become reacquainted with people we haven’t seen for many years, and we might meet many new people,” U Sai Khwan Main said.
“From this we can form closer ties and move forward with a lot of hope to maintain and improve Shan literature and education for the next generation.”