12 September 2007

Rohingyas or Migrated People in Arakan

Rohingyas or Migrated People in Arakan:
The Rohingyas are not an indigenous ethnic group of Myanmar (Burma).We can confidently say that there has never been such an ethnic group throughout the history of Burma and also her state Rakhine. The people called Rohingyas are direct descendents of immigrants from the Chittagong District of East Bengal (present day Bangladesh). The British colonial officials called them Chittagonians in their administrative records. These Muslim people (Rohingyas) are not Arakan (Rakhine Pyay) origin and also can’t be called them as Arakanese (Rakhine thar). They migrated into Arakan after the province was ceded to British India under the terms of Treaty of Yandabo concluded at the end of the First Anglo-Burmese War in 1826. Most of them settled down in the Buthidaung and Maungdaw Districts of Arakan State, the frontier areas near Burma’s border with Bangladesh. Their migration in the past usually happened during the agricultural season when Arakan faced the problem of the shortage of agricultural labourers. These Muslims, of mainly Bengali origin, were not culturally integrated and played a part in history of domestic conflicts in Myanmar after 1947. They then claimed an identity of their own and organized themselves in the so-called Rohingya movements. It is obvious that the term “Rohingya” was created in 1950s by the educated Chittagonian descendants from Mayu Frontier area (present day Buthidaung and Maungdaw Districts).

We didn't hear the word rohingyas before 1950 in our region and also didn't find any historical source materials in any language till then. Rohingya name was created by some of the Bengladeshi Muslim Extremist with the aim to occupy Arakan. Bengalis and Rohingyas squatters (people who come to our land to claim it as theirs) are trying to occupy our land. Arakan is our own land and our continent. This is not property of the Bengalis and Rohingyas or their descendants. Bengalis and Rohingyas squatters are today stealing not just our land; they are stealing our farmland, our forests and all of our other resources. They are also stealing our honor, our dignity, and our sense of being one Rakhine nation. And also their aim is to destroy our nation and religion, after that they will try to form Muslim country in our own land.

03 September 2007

Rakhine Traditional Sports

Rakhine Traditional Sports

There were verious traditional sports in Arakan like art of self-defence, kyun ( Arakanese style of wrestling and self-defence),elephat and horse racing, bow racing, sword with sword and spear with spear racing and boat racing. The purpose of all race were produced skilled warriors of the Kingdom for the Royal Army Both major sports of Kyun wrestling and boat racing have remained and popularized amoung the public of Arakan. The several kinds of sport were lost throughout under the colonial rule.

Rakhine Wrestling – Kyun

Rakhine people have a long tradition of holding wrestling competitions during the annual festivals in their towns and villages. It is one of the Rakhine traditional sports which mainly based on physical ability to uplift the happiness and physical prowess. It’s a kind of martial art. The skill of wrestling and making one’s rival fall on to the ground while avoiding hid attack is called “Kyun”.

Kyun - It derives from Kyar–Yun. Kyar” means “tiger” and “yun” means “quick”. Therefore, the complete meaning of “Kyun” is the quick tiger. The Rakhine wrestler can be called as a quick tiger because of his ability in wrestling movements and techniques.

“Kyun” the Rakhine wrestling is very different from other wrestling and it has its own rules and disciplines not to get hurt each other. Wrestler first dances jumping and making special styles in the playground. The two wrestlers have to play three rounds. They are defined as an attacker and one defender. After finishing three rounds, the first attacker becomes the defender and also the first defender becomes the attacker. The attacker who can make the back of the defender falls up to the ground wins the playing round. The first prizewinner will be awarded the gold gong, one tickle weight and for the second prizewinner, the silver gong is awarded. The “Kyun” wrestling is usually performed at the pagoda festivals.

Carriage Pulling Event - Rahta-Swe-Bwe

We call carriage pulling event as “Rahta-swe-bwe” in Rakhine version, meaning that pulling a kind of tug-of-war. In these sports, two teams including at least 20 persons each side has to complete three rounds. In this event, “Rahta” is made of four big wheels and the wooden frame. On the frame, there are some decorations and some bamboo leaves. Originally, the winner group can get the chance to burn that bamboo leaves. Now a day, the winner groups are awarded the gold medal as the first prize.

Traditional Rakhine Water Festival - Rakhine Thungran

Traditional Rakhine Water Festival - Rakhine Thungran

Traditional Rakhine Thungran is celebrated on 13-17 April every year, it''s also known as the Water Festival. Traditionally there is a festival for each of the twelve months. Thungran is on Tangu, the first lunar month of Rakhine calendar. Thungran means passing from one year to another. The New Year, Thungran Celebration, symbolizes the feast of washing away the old year clean. Traditional Rakhine Thungran is held in three stages which are: incense - grinding, offering of water to Buddha images and holding the water festival. There are four days of holiday. All marketing and shopping are closed. Before the arrival of Thungran, everyone''s household must be cleaned. On 12th April, the eve of Thungran, young women prepare the scented water at night. To make the scented water, a piece of sandal-wood is rubbed with a little water added on the surface of a flat, circular stone plate surrounded by a sunken ring to collect the mixture. Young men come and join them accompanied by music and dance, and then they make beautiful bamboo trees with hanging things to offer to the monasteries. They are called the "Padetharpon".On 13th April, the opening day of Thungran, young men-women, children and parents go to monasteries in lorries bringing scented water and "Padetharpon" (bamboo trees). When they arrive at the monastery compound the girls carry the water and the boys wash the Buddha images and statues, then offer scented water to the Buddha images. They go around from one monastery to another offering one "Padetharpon" to each monastery. Before bathing the Buddha no one is allowed to play with water. When they return home from visiting the monasteries, anyone can throw water at the lorries carrying people. The Water Festival starts the next day. In every suburb they make a beautiful pandal with wooden posts surrounded by toddy palm leaves hanging with green bunches of leaves and colourful flowers. In the middle of the pandal there is a wooden rowboat filled with water. In front of the boat there are benches in a single row which provide seats for the girls. A fence is placed three feet above the ground. It serves as the divider between males outside the pandal and females inside the pandal. Rakhine girls who are pandal members run the pandal. There are usually twenty to forty young girls at a pandal. The girls sit on the benches facing the boat, they wear the same colour and designed uniform. They all look alike from the rear. It is hard to tell the girls apart. The pandals open from 11.00am to 3.00pm.
The boys go around the city one pandal after another. The boy can choose the girl he likes as his mate and chat with her teasingly but politely. The boys come on foot and in the bullock carts with music instruments and utensil boards. Every group has to wait for its turn while the other group is enjoying the water festival in the pandal. While they are waiting for their turn, there is singing and dancing in the fore ground.
When the whistle blows, it means that the time is up. The next group takes the place opposite the girls of their choice. The boy invites the girl to join him for the water festival, he greets her with a cupful of water gently thrown her back.. The girl gets up and throws a bowl of water at him. He calls her "Maree", sister-in-law, before he politely asks for some water. The girl fills his bucket with water. He takes a cup of water from his bucket and throws it at her. She throws him a bowl of water from the boat. They play face-to-face, faster and faster If some-one''s cup drops down or he/she wipes his/her face, that will be a looser, as must pay a fine. A group is allowed to enjoy themselves for about 15 minutes. There are whole pandals filled with water sparks. After the pandals close the members of the pandals go around the city in the lorries. The Water Festival Celebration goes for three days in the cities but in the countryside it''s celebrated until the end of the month.
During the Thungran days, every house cooks some traditional food and sends it to monasteries. Also they send food to relatives and neighbors then, everywhere is filled of music until midnight.
On New Year Day, the cultural association group goes around, suburb to suburb, and gives respect to the oldest people by prayer, singing, dancing and presents.
It is the most joyful celebration of the year.
By Kyawt Hla

02 September 2007

Native Arakan - Arakanese - Rakhine

The Rakhine people; formerly Arakanese, are an ethnic group of Myanmar, and form the majority along Rakhine State's coastal regions. They possibly constitute 5% or more of Myanmar's population but no accurate census figures exist.

According to the Rakhine Chronicles, the name Rakhine or Rakhaing was originated from Pali word Rakhapura meaning the land of the people of Rakhasa (Rakhasa > Rakkha > Rakhine) who were titled this name in honour of preservation on their national heritage (a myo) and ethics or morality (sila). The word Rakhine means, “one who keeps his own race.”

The Rakhine (Arakanese) speak a language related to but different from Burmese. Although mutually intelligible with standard Burmese, one major variation is the Rakhine speech's retention of the /r/ sound, which is a /j/ sound in Burmese. Written Rakhine is essentially the same as standard written Burmese though certain differences in vocabulary do exist.

The Rakhine are predominantly Theravadan Buddhists. They claim to be one of the first groups to become followers of the Buddha in Southeast Asia. The Rakhine culture like the majority Burmese culture is based on Theravada Buddhism but has more Indian influence, likely due to its geographical isolation from the Burmese mainland divided by the Arakan Roma and closer proximity to South Asia. Traces of Indian influence remain in many aspects of Rakhine culture, including its literature, music, and cuisine.

Arakan is comprised of the four provinces of Dhannyawadi (Mrauk-U), Maegawadi (Man Aung), Dwarawadi (Sandway), Rammawadi (Rann Bray) and 12 Bengal cities including Chittagong (now in Bangladesh). Decca (present capital of Republic of Bangladesh, Dhaka) area as far a field as Mushidabad (near present day Calcutta) was most of the time under Arakanese rule.
The area of Arakan was about 20,000 sq. ml. till the British period. But, Burmese ruler, without the Arakanese people's consent, split up a north western Arakan Hill Tracts area bordering India and a southern most part of Arakan (from Kyauk Chaung River to Cape Negaris) from the Arakan mainland. Due to these partitions, the present day total area of Arakan was reduced to 18, 500 sq. ml and it comprises less than half of historic Arakan.

The land that is known as Arakan by the foreigners is called "Rakhaing-pray" by its own peoples, Rakhaing-thar (Arakanese). The Arakanese history records the early Arakanese to migrate in Arakan and settled down in their true land since time immemorial.

The people of Rakhine claim a history that began in 3325 B.C and also archaeological evidence has been found to support this claim. The first independent Arakan kingdom was established in 3325 B.C by King Marayu. Buddhism was introduced into Arakan during the lifetime of Buddha himself. According to Rakhine chronicles, Lord Buddha in his life time visited the city of Dhannyawadi (Grain Blessed) in 554 B.C. The Rakhine king Chandra Suriya (Sun Moon) requested Lord Buddha to leave the image of Himself. After casting the Great Image Maha Muni (Great Sage) Lord Buddha breathed upon it which resembled the exact likeness of the Blessed One.

Ancient Dhannyawadi Lying, west of the ridge between the Kaladan and Le-mro riv­ers. Dhannyawadi could be reached by small boat from the Kaladan Via the its tributary, the Tharechaung. Its city walls were made of brick, and form an irregular circle with a perimeter of about 9.6 kilometres, enclosing an area of about 4.42 square kilometres. Beyond the walls, the remains of a wide moat, now silted over and covered by paddy fields, are still visible in places. The re­mains of brick fortifications can be seen along the hilly ridge which provided protection from the west. Within the city, a similar wall and moat enclose the palace site, which has an area of 0.26 square kilometres, and another wall surrounds the palace itself.
At times of insecurity, when the city was subject to raids from the hill tribes or attempted invasions from neigh­bouring powers, there would have been an assured food supply enabling the population to withstand a siege. The city would have controlled the valley and the lower ridges, supporting a mixed wet-rice and taungya (slash and burn) economy, with local chiefs paying allegiance to the king.

From aerial photographs we can discern Dhannyawadi's irri­gation channels and storage tanks, centred at the palace site. Throughout the history of Arakan, and indeed the rest of early Southeast Asia, the king's power stemmed from his control of irrigation and water storage systems to conserve the monsoon rains and therefore to maintain the fertility and prosperity of the land. In ceremonies conducted by Indian Brahmins the king was given the magic power to regulate the celestial and terrestrial forces in order to control the coming of the rains which would ensure the continuing prosperity of the kingdom.

Historical periods:

Dhannyawadi - BC. 3325 - AD. 326
The First Dhannyawadi
BC. 3325 - 1483 King Marayu
The Second Dhannyawadi
BC. 1483 - 580 King Kanrazagree
The Third Dhannyawadi
BC. 580 - AD. 326 King Chandra Suriya
Gautama Buddha, Himself, visited Dhannyawadi and the Great Image of Mahamuni was casted, and Buddhism began professed in Arakan. Currency system by coinage is said introduced in Arakan economy.

Vesali – Lemro - AD. 327 – 1430
Vesali Kyauk Hlayga
AD. 327 - 794 King Dvan Chandra
AD. 794- 818 Prince Nga Tong Mong (Saw Shwe Lu)
AD. 818 -1430 King Nga Tone Mun
This period was the highest civilization in the Bay and highly prosperous with busy international trade with the west. Pyinsa, Purain, Taung Ngu and Narinsara, Laungkrat cities were flourished and gold and silver coinage was used in trade relation in Arakan in this period.

Golden Mrauk-U - 1430 - 1784
First Golden Mrauk-U
1430 - 1530 King Mun Saw Mwan
Second Golden Mrauk-U
1530 - 1638 Solidified by King Mun Bun (Mun Ba Gri)
Arakan reached at the zenith of the national unity and of the time of most powerful in the Bay in this period.
Third Golden Mrauk-U Period
1638 - 1784 King Mahathamada Raza

The oldest artefact, stone image of Fat Monk inscribed "Saccakaparibajaka Jina" in Brahmi inscription comes to the date of first century A.D.

An ancient stone inscription in Nagari character was discovered by renowned Archaeologist Dr. Forchhammer. Known as Salagiri, this hill was where the great teacher came to Arakan some two thousand five hundred years ago. Somewhere from eastern part of this hill, a stone image in Dhamma-cakra-mudra now kept in Mrauk-U museum, was found earlier in 1923. This relief sculpture found on the Salagiri Hill represents Buddha preaching King Chandra Suriya belongs to 4th century A.D.; five more red sandstone slabs with the carving were found close by the south of this Salagiri Hill in 1986. They are the same type as the single slab found earlier in 1923. These carving slabs of Bhumispara-mudra, Kararuna-mudra, Dhammacakra-mudara, and Mmahaparinibbana-mudra represent the life of Buddha.

These sculptures provide earliest evident about the advent of Buddhism into Arakan; during the life time of the Buddha and these discoveries were therefore assumed as the figures of King Chandra Suriya of Dhannawadi, who dedicated the Great Maha Muni Image. These archaeological findings have been studied by eminent scholars and conclusion is that the Maha Muni was made during the king Sanda Suriya era.

The founder of Vesali city, King Dvan Chandra carved Vesali Paragri Buddha-image in 327 A.D and set a dedicatory inscription in Pali verse

“ye dhamma hetuppabuava / Tathagato aha / tesan ca yo niyodho / evamvadi Mahasamano.”
That Buddha-image is carved out by a single block and the earliest image of Vesali.

The meaning of Ye Dhamma verse is as follow.

“Of these dhammas which arise from causes / The Tathagata has declared causes / Lord Buddha preached about the causes / And the effects gained by the causes / And that which is the ceasing of them, Nirawda Thitesa / This the great ascetic declares.”

The verse, which is considered as the essence of Theravada spirit, bears testimony to the fact that Buddhism flourished to an utmost degree in Vesali. The relationship of Vesali with foreign countries especially Ceylon would be established for Buddhism.

The stone inscriptions are of Sanskrit, Pali, Rakhine, Pru and Arabic languages. Anandacandra Inscriptions date back to 729 A.D. originally from Vesali now preserved at Shitethaung indicates adequate evidence for the earliest foundation of Buddhism. Dr. E. H. Johnston's analysis reveals a list of kings which he considered reliable beginning from Candra dynasty. The western face inscription has 72 lines of text recorded in 51 verses describing the Anandacandra's ancestral rulers. Each face recorded the name and ruling period of each king who were believed to have ruled over the land before Anandacandra. Archaeology has shown that the establishment of so many stone pagodas and inscriptions which have been totally neglected for centuries in different part of Arakan speak of popular favoured by Buddhism.

The cubic stone inscriptions record the peace making between the governor of Thandaway Mong Khari (1433-1459) and Razadhiraj the Mon Emperor in Arakanese inscription. This was found from a garrison hill at the oldest site of Parein. A stone slab with the alleged figure of the Buddha preaching, King Canda Suriya bored testimony to the Salagiri tradition, depicting of the advent of the Teacher to Dyanyawaddy.

The crowing event in the history of Arakan was the Convention of the Buddhist Council at the top of golden hill of Vesali under the royal patronage of King Dhammawizaya in 638 AD. through joint effort of two countries, Arakan and Ceylon. This momentous triumph of the great council was participated by one thousand monks from Ceylon and one thousand monks from Arakan kingdom. As a fitting celebration of the occasion, the lavish construction of pagodas, statues and monasteries were undertaken for the purpose of inscribing the Tripitaka. After Vesali, Pyinsa was found by Lemro dynasty in 818 A.D; the great king of dynasty (AD. 818 -1430) was King Mim-Yin-Phru, who turned his attention towards the development of Buddhism, and in 847 A.D. he conveyed the second Buddhist council in Arakan attended by 800 Arahants. Arakanese chronicles report that therein the Tripitaka and Atthakatha were inscribed on the golden plate and enshrined. Never has there been impediment in the practice of Theravada Buddhist faith since it has introduced in Arakan. The copious findings of inscription Ye Dhamma verse were practical evidence that Theravada was dominant faith if epigraphic and archaeological sources were to be believed. The Royal patronage has always been significant factor contribution to stability and progress of the religion in Arakan.

The country had been invaded several times, by the Mongols, Mon, Bamar and Portuguese and finally the Bamar in 1784 when the armies led by the Crown Prince, son of King Bodawpaya, of the Konbaung dynasty of Burma marched across the western Yoma and annexed Arakan. The religious relics of the kingdom were stolen from Rakhine, most notably the Mahamuni Buddha image, and taken into central Burma where they remain today. The people of Arakan resisted the conquest of the kingdom for decades after. Fighting with the Rakhine resistance, initially led by Nga Than Dè and finally by Chin Byan in border areas, created problems between British India and Burma. The year 1826 saw the defeat of the Bamar in the First Anglo-Burmese War and Arakan was ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Yandabo. Akyab (Sittwe) was then designated the new capital of Arakan. In 1852, Arakan was merged into Lower Burma as a territorial division.
During the Second World War, Arakan was given autonomy under the Japanese occupation and was even granted its own army known as the Arakan Defense Force. The Arakan Defense Force went over to the allies and turned against the Japanese in early
1945. After the war, Arakan was the centre of multiple insurgencies which fought against British rule, notably led by the monks U Ottama and U Seinda.
1948, Arakan became independent as a division within the Union of Burma. Shortly after, violence broke out along religious lines between Buddhists and Muslims. Later there were calls for secession by the Rakhine, but such attempts were subdued. In 1974, the Ne Win government's new constitution granted Rakhine Division "state" status but the gesture was largely seen as meaningless since the military junta held all power in the country and in Rakhine. In 1989, the name of Arakan State was changed to "Rakhine" by the military junta.

Where Will Our Children Live.....

A lonesome warrior stands in fear of what the future brings,

he will never hear the beating drums or the songs his brothers sing.

Our many nations once stood tall and ranged from shore to shore

but most are gone and few remain and the buffalo roam no more.

We shared our food and our land and gave with open hearts,

We wanted peace and love and hope, but all were torn apart.

All this was taken because we did not know what the Burma Invader had in store,

They killed our people and raped our lands and the buffalo roam no more.

But those of us who still remain hold our heads up high,

and the spirits ofthe elders flow through us as if they never died.

Our dreams will live on forever and our nations will be reborn,

our bone andbeads and feathers all will be proudly worn.

If you listen close you will hear the drums and songs upon the winds,

and inthe distance you will see....the buffalo roam again.....

"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

"So, we must protect our own land for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect our land for those who can't speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees."