Traditional spirit propitiation ceremony declines despite new blood

Many of the new generation have joined the spirit propitiation ceremonies, one of Myanmar’s traditions, but the quality is on a downward trend, and some rituals are disappearing, a famous spirit medium in Yangon told The Global News Light of Myanmar.
The spirit propitiation ceremony attracts public interest in Myanmar, and its ancient traditional agenda includes dancing for spirits and appeasing the spirits.
“Nats (spirits) are not meant to be worshipped. People pay respects to Nats for their good fortune and health. There are many ceremonies. Throughout Myanmar, many people from different classes, whether rich or poor, traders or brokers, love Nats and want to make offerings to the spirits,” he said. Despite the involvement of many young people from the new generation in the trade to uphold the tradition, quality is a compromise, he added.
“Many young people are interested in becoming spirit mediums. But their qualifications have faded compared to the old days. With the successive changes of masters over the ages, the protocol of seniority and the traditional rites have slightly disappeared. Still, more and more people are becoming interested, and it is good from the aspect of preserving the culture,” he said.
With changing social patterns, the U Shingyi festival, an offering to the lord of the salty sea, is gradually disappearing, he added.
“Spirit mediums are used to organize and supervise the U Shingyi offering festival. There were specially trained mediums for this festival because it was a kind of hereditary profession. Nowadays, people live in seven- or eight-storey buildings, so they no longer hold U Shingyi festivals due to the space. You can say that this tradition is slightly fading out,” he said. — Thit Taw/ZN/ED

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14 July 2024