Kayin’s wrist-tying ceremony

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Historians claimed that the original places of Kayin’s ancestors were the highlands surrounded by high mountains in central Asia and that they introduced the wrist-tying habit while exploring new locations in the Southeast. They tie a price of white thread on their wrists to recognize their relatives along the way from the Tibetan plateau. It can be easily known that a person with white thread on his or her wrist is Kayin. Traditionally, all the Kayin living in local or foreign countries celebrate their festival in Wagaung.
The festival aims to preserve the traditions and cultures of the Kayin people, share knowledge with other ethnic people, preserve and value the traditions and characteristics of the Kayin people while participating in the event. Moreover, during the event, the senior Kayin people meet their family members at the end of the farming season. The young seek advice from elders, and the elders mentor the family members regarding their wrong opinions and thoughts and discuss social-related affairs to promote mutual relations among the attendees.
The Kayin people of ancient ancestors and great-grandmothers and grandfathers thought that there was a flood usually in Wagaung and there was no food security and lived in fear of different spirits. Therefore, they used white thread, which they tied on the wrists after calling back their spirits. It meant that the person and one’s spirit would stay together and could live free from fear.
The wrist-tying ceremony can create an atmosphere where families can meet each other, are in unison, and discuss and exchange their experiences with young and old people. It is such a lovely sign to create a warm atmosphere for the families and relatives.
Moreover, if a family member is sick or lives in fear of something, he or she is cured with the traditional white thread. While recalling the spirit of the sick person, the practitioners, heads of villages and elderly couples have to conduct the processes.
Although the wrist-tying ceremony was held at every house of Kayin people in the past, it is held as a traditional culture currently, and so it can boost unity and friendship among the families and also beef up ethnic unity and preserve the national characteristics of ethnic people as different ethnic people can join the event.
White thread tying falls into three categories;
(1) Wedding
(2) Calling back spirit when one of the family members dies
(3) Calling back one spirit who is sick for fear of the devil
Although the periods for the wrist-tying events for these three categories are different, the Wagaung wrist-tying event is held collectively in Wagaung at monasteries, some do just in their families and some collectively. The wrist-tying seems to be usual, but the materials used in the event carry significant meanings.
There are seven materials used for the tying ceremony:
(1) Banana: Bananas represent good discipline and loyalty.
(2) Lumps of sticky rice: it represents solidarity and sharpness.
(3) Rice balls: The rice balls stand for being united. We eat rice every day to be strong and able to work. Therefore, the Kayin people should feed each other.
(4) The branch of flowers (Paw Wee): it represents the ability to settle and grow anywhere.
(5) White thread- it represents unity among Kayin people as only a string of thread can be cut but a knot cannot.
(6) Water: it represents peace of mind and strength, cleansing the body and mind.
(7) Sugarcane: it represents the progress of lives step by step.
Such a meaningful wrist-tying ceremony is held in Kayin State in Wagaung to preserve the traditional culture and the ethnic people can visit and enjoy the culture of the Kayin people at the event.
It is commonly held in Hpa-an, the capital of Kayin State. The wrist-tying ceremonies held at Zwekabin Hall, Taung Kalay Kayin New Year Ground, Kyauk Ka Lat, Htunt Patine and Thamanya are the most popular among the people. Moreover, there are adequate hotels and guesthouses in Hpa-an and the visitors can visit the famous pagodas, traditional caves, waterfalls, and recreational sites including the wrist-tying event and taste the unique food tying the white thread on their wrists.

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