Water, meals and community-building at Myanmar New 12 months’s pageant – San Francisco Chronicle


Midmorning rain didn’t damper spirits on the eighth annual Myanmar New 12 months’s Water Competition in Union Metropolis.

On Sunday, crowds swelled to some hundred because the Bay Space’s Myanmar neighborhood and different locals got here to rejoice the Thingyan (pronounced thin-jen) pageant, additionally referred to as the Burmese New 12 months’s Competition. Myanmar, a land of greater than 130 ethnic teams, was previously referred to as Burma.

For Fremont resident Rosie Chu, 26, who was born in Mandalay in Myanmar however moved along with her household to the U.S. at eight months previous, the celebration is a crucial means of making neighborhood.

“If you come to America, it’s arduous to recollect your identification,” she mentioned. “There’s stress to slot in, and when my mother and father moved right here, folks weren’t so welcoming to different cultures. That is a lot extra than simply an occasion for me.”

The pageant began with a ceremony for elders with women and men carrying conventional “longyi” — a sort of sarong impressed by the Indian lungi. Speeches and dances adopted. A standard dance referred to as the “yein” befell with associates Monalisa Lam and Stacy Huang, each 18 and from Fremont, collaborating. The duo, half of a bigger group of dancers, mentioned they met as soon as per week for apply over the previous two months.

Visitors on the occasion included Myanmar’s ambassador to the U.S., Aung Lynn, who mentioned he was “blissful to see the Myanmar tradition maintained and flourishing within the San Francisco Bay Space.” The final census in 2010 pegged the Burmese inhabitants within the Bay Space at round 7,000.

Union Metropolis Police Chief Jared Rinetti, who was there along with his spouse and three youngsters, mentioned the New 12 months’s pageant showcased the Bay Space’s variety and traditions that make “this metropolis and this nation particular.”

Water holds particular significance within the Myanmar New 12 months’s festivities, thought of to be symbolic for laundry away sins and beginning recent. Ah Sai, a performer onstage portraying Thagyamin (pronounced ja-min), a spirit from the heavens, was there to bathe blessings and need the group effectively. He mentioned water signifies purification.

Attendees flocked to 15 meals cubicles that bought Burmese delicacies reminiscent of mohingya, a fish chowder, and Shan-style rice, which is rice cooked with fish flakes, turmeric and garlic oil. No eating places or meals vehicles had been allowed as distributors. As an alternative, organizers obtained a one-day allow and neighborhood members got here collectively to cook dinner and promote the meals.

“It’s actually our aunts, moms and grandmothers who’re making the meals,” mentioned Moe Mra San, a spokeswoman for the One Myanmar Group, organizers of the pageant. The group is a cohort of teams, together with the Myanmar Muslim Affiliation, Burma Refugee Household Community and the Theravada Dhamma Society. The occasion is a fundraiser for its neighborhood and cultural heart in Union Metropolis, a spot that provides citizenship and language courses, amongst different actions.

The Myanmar New 12 months started April 13. The pageant is often a four- or five-day affair.

Shwanika Narayan is a San Francisco Chronicle workers author. Electronic mail: shwanika.narayan@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @shwanika

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