Sunday, October 24, 2010

Church supports Kayan harvest festival

By reporter, Loikaw
The Kayan tribe from Loikaw diocese in eastern Myanmar celebrates the traditional Di Khu or steam-packed glutinous rice festival as a tribute to a successful harvest.

Women in Kayar traditional costume preparing steam-packed glutinous rice for the 'Di Khu' festival

U Phe Bu, a Catholic, said that although different villages in Kayar state celebrate the festival at their convenience between September and October, the rules and practices for the three-day ceremony are the same.

In the morning of the festival’s first day, male adults getthe leaves for wrapping the glutinous rice from the forest. The women then select the best leaves and pack the glutinous rice in a triangle shape. Three packed glutinous rice are then tied together with a thin bamboo strip to symbolize unity and reunification of parents, siblings and relatives, he explained.

For the second day, the village host and family members invite friends and relatives, near and far, to join the feast filled with steamed glutinous rice, assorted food and traditional wine.

On the evening of the last day, they bring two baskets filled with charcoal, paddy husk, pine chunks, pumpkin leaves, arum or pein leaves, brass blowpipe and gourd to the northern shrine of nuts (gods)and make a devotional offering.

Father Louise Maurice, a parish priest, said that since the traditional worship of the Kayans is similar to animist practises, the Catholic Church never encourages the Kayan Catholics to perform traditional worship. But because of the increasing influence of interreligious harmony and spiritual knowledge, the Church celebrates together with traditional worship.

The Church now allows worship of gods or animists to be practiced together with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, giving of alms to the priests and gathering with friends and relatives.

“We can express our feelings and gratitude to God according to our tradition,” said Father Maurice. He added that since the Church encourages different indigenous groups to sustain their traditional festivals, there is more unity in the Church due to the combined traditional and religious festivals.


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