Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture striving for long-lasting of the Sasana and preserving and protecting cultural heritage

  • By Naing Linn Kyi
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    Ceremony for paying respect to 20,000 monks in Chanmyathazi Airport, Mandalay Region.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture held the 70th Tipitakadhara Tipitakakovida examination from 26 December 2017 to 27 January 2018 for 33 days at Maha Pasana Cave in Kaba Aye, Yangon, during the second-year term of the government in office. Eighty-eigh members of the Sangha passed the examination in various categories. At the Dhammacariya examinations 3455 monks passed the examination in different subjects. Under the patronage of the ministry the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon was consecrated with 18000 members of the Sangha on 1 January 2018, the Uppatasanti Pagoda in Nay Pyi Taw was consecrated with 10000 members of the Sangha on 20 January 2018, and provisions were offered to 20000 monks in Mandalay on 21 January 2018.

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The Union Minister for Religious Affairs and Culture, left, Bhamo Sayadaw, centre, visit the Maha Lokha Pala Sutaung Pyae Pagoda in Pyinsa Sanpya Village, Mandalay Region on 31 December 2017.

The new rules of the Shwedagon Pagoda Broad of Trustees were rewritten under the approval of the Union Attorney-General Office on 30 June 2016 and the Pagoda Broad of Trustees was reformed. The pagoda received a donation of over K 8 billion till February 2017-2018.
As some acts of monopolization and corruption were found at Kyaikhtiyoe Pagoda, the Pagoda Board of Trustees was reformed on 4 July 2016 and rules were rewritten. Heat-resistant marble slabs were laid on the platform and two 260,000-gallon tanks were raised to the height of nearly five feet. Kyaikhtiyoe Pagoda received nearly K 7.7 billion as donations and the Maha Myat Muni Pagoda received nearly K 2 billiion as donations up to February 2017-2018. The pagoda broad of trustees of Botahtaung, Kyauktawgyi, Maha Wizaya, Buddha’s Tooth Relic and Thiri Mingala Kaba Aye pagodas were also reformed.
At the 23rd convocation of the State Pariyatti Sasana University (Yangon) religious titles were conferred on 128 monks. At the 33rd convocation of the State Pariyatti Sasana University (Mandalay) religious titles were conferred on 51 monks.

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The Religious Affairs and Culture Minister at a ceremony in Shwebonthamuni Pagoda in Padaung Township, Bago Region.

Monastic education schools
Myanmar had 1547 monastic education schools where 7862 teachers are giving lessons to 309273 students in academic year 2017-2018. The government within its two-year period provided over K 140 million as monthly financial provision for teachers.

International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University-ITBMU
A total of 269 students including monks – 147 of Myanmar and 122 from abroad – were attending various courses at the International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University in academic year 2017-2018. The bill on
ITBMU was sent to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw on 21-7-2017.

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The Sangha Maha Nayaka Sayasdaws meet with Pope Francis during his visit to Myanmar on 29 Novermber 2017.

Unity among all religions
The interfaith dialogue groups were formed – one at the central level, 11 at region/state level, 39 at district level, and 76 at township level totaling 127.
E Government tasks
Lay persons and monks from the country and abroad can visit for Kaba Aye Pitaka Museum in Yangon, for Nay Pyi taw National Library, and for National Culture and Fine Arts University in Mandalay which are the Website Domain Names of the e-Library. Work is under way to open more e-Libraries.
The Website and Facebook of the ministry has released information for 63 times to counter the false information on the social media and for 118 times about the religious activities all around the country.

World heritage list
Three ancient Pyu cities – Beikthano, Hanlin and Srikistra — become World heritage sites in 2010. Efforts are being made to put Bagan ancient cultural region and MraukU ancient cultural region into World heritage list. The ministry in cooperation with the respective organizations and individuals from the country and abroad is conducting research work, field studies, meetings to put more historical sites and places into UNESCO World Heritage List. Although Bagan was hit by an earthquake, cultural preservation activities were conducted in cooperation with foreign experts for 109 times.

Intangible and tangible cultural heritage
The ministry has been rediscovering the legends, languages, performing arts, social customs, traditions, knowledge on the nature and the universe, traditional handicrafts in all regions and it could rediscovered and preserved 312 categories within a two-year period.
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The ministry has be recollecting the ancient heritage all around the country. It is rewarding the people who present ancient items or show ancient places. Within a two-year period it can put 48 items under its care.

Laws and rules
The laws to protect and preserve ancient artifacts and edifices were enacted in accord with the wish of the ministry. The ministry also formed committees, held meeting with the participation of international experts, took suggestions from relevant bodies and discussed the bills to protect and preserve ancient artifacts and edifices.
Of the 47 protective cultural zones 18 have human settlements. So the ministry is striving for the emergence of a law that will ensure a win-win situation for the locals and the ancient artifacts protection work.
The ministry is conducting field tours and research work in trying to protect and preserve the cultures, performing arts, musical instruments and artifacts of the ethnic races such as Kayan, Padaung, Kayin, Mon, Bamar, Rakhine, Kachin, and Chin.
The duty to protect and preserve the traditional performing arts also falls on the national races. So the ministry is launching programmes to enhance the public awareness of the cultural protection tasks. It is conducting performing arts conservation courses for teachers as a way of encouraging students to cherish and value their culture and performing arts. So, the people will be able to ward off the penetration of alien culture and lifestyles into the country.

Books and papers
The ministry is also collecting, compiling and publishing books and papers on historical research, ethnic literature and culture. Up to now it has published four books and is preparing to print ten more. Historical Research and National Library is collecting books, magazines, journals, newspapers, gazettes, compilations and theses. The library of Historical Research Department has collected 2813 books, the National Library (Nay Pyi Taw) 30634 books, the National Library (Yangon) 10294 books and the branch of National Library (Yangon) 21477 books.
The Myanmar Historical Commission was reformed with 18 fulltime members and 15 part-time members. Based on the collected evidence, information and data, the finds of the field research books and papers on history are being published. Seven books were published in the current fiscal year and preparations are under way to distribute more.
The steering committee, the action committee and subcommittees have already formed to successfully host the 17th Southeast Asia Librarians Conference and related meetings from 2 to 5 May 2018. A combined team comprising members of Myanmar Historical Commission, palm leaf treatise experts, experts on ancient literature and related departments was formed to protect and preserve palm leaf treatises. The team is now achieving progress in its work. Work is under way to move the National Library to downtown Yangon in fiscal year 2018-2019 for the convenience of visitors.
The National Culture and Fine Arts University held its 20th anniversary convocation in December 2016 at the University Convocation Hall. Various kinds of degrees including the honorary doctorate degree were conferred on 130 persons.
The university sent final year students of various major subjects to Bagan in Mandalay Region to study ancient cultural heritage there and Dawei in Taninthayi Region to study the culture and traditions and Dawei people, one of the highly civilized ethnic races of Myanmar.
Myanmar hosted the second NUAC Orchestra Cinematic Music Showcase 2017 at the National Theatre in Yangon on 26 February 2017.
The showcase presented movie songs of Myanmar and the world through a combination of Myanmar and western music.
Students of Music, Dance, Painting, Sculpture, Theatre and Cinema branch of the Fine Arts Department have to learn subjects on intangible and tangible cultural heritage, Myanmar, linguistics, civilization, English, international relations and Myanmar history.
The National Culture and Fine Arts University (Mandalay) sponsored India-Myanmar workshop and joint performance programme, joint dance programme between Myanmar dancers and Indian classical dance troupe, the entertainment of Restaurant of Many Orders troupe of Japan and workshop, the workshop on the imaginative of world of Paper and moving Paper Puppets in cooperation with Israel, meeting with Tokyo University of the Arts for giving lectures on culture, meeting with Israeli film directors and diplomats on filming the university, workshop on cooperation programme with BSRU university of Thailand, China, USA, meeting on holding “Next Level” hip-hop, the One Asia Classic Orchestra Selection Workshop, cooperation program with TUA university of Japan, Stop – Motion Animation Workshop, the Kuricorder & Friends Concert in Myanmar. The university also took part in “Pagoda Flower of Myanmar” staged by Chinese artists, held talks with Yangon-based Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and took part in the entertainment programme marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Myanmar and Russia.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture is preserving, rediscovering and collecting cultural and literature heritages and national characters, reinvigorating patriotism, producing experts in cultural subjects and opening museums and library in addition to preserving, promoting and propagatiing of the Sasana.

(Translated by TMT)

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