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EXCLUSIVE: MU draws flak for hosting Burmese Water Festival


Netizens took to social media platforms to vent out their anger and question the timing of celebrations when people of Myanmar are facing military junta’s atrocities. However, the organiser maintained that it is a purely academic activity

TFM Report

Announcement by Manipur University’s Centre of Myanmar Studies to host Thingyan, Burmese Water Festival, 2021 on April 15 and 16 to mark the new year of Myanmar has received a lot of flak from netizens for being insensitive towards deteriorating humanitarian situation in the neighbouring country. Netizens took to social media platforms to vent out their anger and question the timing of celebrations when people of Myanmar are facing military junta’s atrocities.

Soon after a poster of the upcoming two-day event to be organized at the Centenary Hall, MU was posted on the Facebook page of the Manipur University, netizens of the state were quick to react and tried to bring some sanity to the celebrations.

On February 1, 2021 Myanmar military toppled the democratically elected government, putting the country under emergency. The military junta has also responded with a heavy hand to the people of Myanmar, who are resisting the military coup with peaceful demonstrations and defiance. In the violent repression of the protests by the military junta, more than 700 people have been killed so far triggering one of the largest humanitarian crises in the country. Many citizens of the country are fleeing to neighbouring countries, Including India.

India has adopted a cautious approach in Myanmar. Though New Delhi has supported the democratic transition in Myanmar, it has not criticized the military’s brutal tactics. The Manipur government was forced to retract its directive to the DCs of the districts bordering Myanmar not to allow civil society orgisations to set up any refugee camps and to turn away the Burmese citizens crossing into India “politely” presumably after facing backlash.

In this backdrop, people find it very strange that the Manipur University is preparing to celebrate Thingyan instead of organising events to assist the Burmese people or to show solidarity.

“Seriously! Didn’t expect such a level of absurdity from Manipur University. People behind this idea, the department and the authority giving permission to organize this event are being too callously naive. What a shame,” reacted one facebook user Ajanta Moirangthem.

Another facebook user Nick Nzel Ch commented, “Burma is now in bloodshed (and) it was such a shameful act from the MU student. Rethink your mind and know the consequences. Postpone it and you can do it next year. Instead of celebration, make something better, another option which can help Burma. All I can say is have some sympathy for those innocent souls of Burmese”.

“What better time to celebrate their culture than now, that these people are fighting for their lives? The heights of insensitivity is astonishing,” wrote Ravalina Sharma

Kulbushan Kh wrote, “This is wrong at so many levels.. very immature. another reflection of our Manipur society. Pathetic”.

When contacted, the organiser of the festival maintained that it is a purely academic activity and urged the people not to judge it by just looking at the poster.

Stating that they are aware of the political situations in Myanmar, one of the members said that the festival is being organised with an aim to make the people of Manipur understand about the culture and traditions of the Burmese, particularly the Thingyan. In order to understand the politics of a land, having knowledge about the people and the land is vital.

While appreciating the concern shown by the people of the state about the festival, the organiser urged everyone to visit the festival. Burmese foods, Burmese dance, photo exhibition, art exhibition are amongst the main attractions of the two-day festival.

Thingyan is the new year’s day celebration of the Burmese, just like Chieraoba of the Meiteis. There are remarkable resemblances between the two people and it is reflected in their culture, said the organiser.

Thingyan which means the movement of the sun from Pisces to Aries in Pali (a Middle Indo ancient language) is the new-year water festival of the Myanmar people.

According to the legend, the water festival in the new year of Myanmar derived from the desire to preserve the peaceful world and pray to the gods for the blessing. Burmese people believe that water will help to cleanse all mistakes, bad things, diseases, and bring about good luck, happiness, and health so that the wetter you are, the more you are blessed. The festival also represents the aspiration towards a prosperous life, a peaceful and bright future for the whole nation, according to

It is not only the biggest but also the most common event of the nation that attracts tourists all over the world. And many from Manipur also travel to Tamu town and participate in the festival every year.

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