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Mon National Day and Me

By Wagaru Mon

February 09, 2012

Mon National Day has recently been celebrated in my home village of Moh Don Township, in the Mon State. Celebrations have taken place in other regions of lower Burma, as well as in the former Mon Capital, Rangoon (La Goon), and globally in Western nations such as the USA, Australia and Canada. The festivities of Mon National Day surround the foundation of the last Mon Kingdom, Hongsawatoi (Pegu), A.D. 573. It is a celebration of the Mon civilization, their place in history, their language, culture, but also their sense of hope for a democratic freedom. In a new era of global norms in the protection of human rights and self-determination for all nations, this sense of hope carried through the festivities of Mon National Day.

I was born to a Mon farming family in a rural village in 1968. This is my journey of hope during the Mon National day celebrations in my village.

Mon people, many dressed in traditional red and white colors, attended the Mon National Day celebration. (Photo:Azan)

Within the Mon community, Mon National Day is a day of pride, regardless of social class and political differences. In the early morning we offered meals to all the Mon Buddhist monks as a way of transferring our merits to those who passed away during the last battle of the Mon Kingdom in 1757 to the Burman troops. Additionally, it is a tribute to all those in present years that have sacrificed their lives for the democratic freedom of the Mon people. Our history is our past; but the memory has not passed when it remains in our consciousness.

During Mon National Day we listen to the stories of our village leaders. Stories from their time that cover topics from cultural heritage to social and political issues that have impacted our people at the local level and into our present day. Village leaders gave lectures on the Mon kings, princesses and princes that once ruled lower Burma for over two thousand years. A leadership marked with dignity and rules of law under the principle of ‘fairness’ and ‘justice,’ principles based in the Dham.ma.sat text.

They also lectured that our great writers, authors, musicians, all of which have been preserved, as well as our Buddhist monks and our unique language, are all under threat of being lost to future generations. This disappearance of our cultural riches has been in steady decline over the past 200 years, since the last Mon sovereignty was lost in 1757.

For the past 65 years, Mon National Day has been celebrated in the Mon State by new generations of Mon leaders representing the society, culture and politics of our people. All are in pursuit of uniting all Mon people under a single banner of pride and common purpose, a common purpose for a rebuilt and united Monland.

During the 1982 Mon National Day that was held in our village, I was the first Master of Ceremony among the 120 young boys in the Buddhist monastery. I received training in public speaking from the master in the village.

Mon National Day is the only un-official public holiday for our Mon workers, farmers and teachers in Burma / Myanmar. However, if our farmers, teachers and workers cannot celebrate this auspicious day, then the hope for democratic change and reform, peace and national reconciliation cannot be complete.

The Mon people and the Burmese-speaking population have been living on the same land, using the same water, from the same river, cultivating the same farm land in lower Burma for over a thousand years. Former Mon and Burmese kings exchanged council for peace missions from the late 11th century and into the 16th century.

Mon National Day is a day of pride and unity not only among the Mon-speaking population, but also for other races and ethnicities that reside in Monland, in lower Burma. My mission for Mon National Day since I was a child, has been to convey that the Mon people are not a tribal people. They have rule country and people as they have kingdom in the history.

The 65th Mon National Day in Maharchai, Thailand. (Photo:Kaowao)

If over three million Mon people have enjoyed celebrations of Mon National Day without fear or oppression, based on the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/), a day of pride can then be meaningful for me, and for all.


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