December 28, 2006

Karen New Year

The Karens' New Year Day: Its Meaning and Implication

By – Saw Kapi

Most Karens realize that the official recognition of Karens' New Year day did not come about easily. Far-sighted Karen leaders started out their relentless efforts with an attempt to gain recognition for a Karen national day. In the early 1920’s a group of visionary leaders deliberated upon the issue on several occasions and finally came the agreement that Saw Myat Thein (Karen Parliamentarian from Hinthada) and Dr. Johnson Durmay Poe Min (Karen Parliamentarian from Toungoo) should, together, take the lead in working with their other colleagues to introduce a Karen New Year Recognition Bill to the then British Burma's Legislative Council.

First, the efforts to get Karen New Year Day officially recognized by the Legislative Council at that time reflects both high political awareness of and commendable cooperation among our leaders.

Second, the recognition of Karen New Year Day implies, at least indirectly, that the Karen people of Burma are one of the earliest settlers to the land. In their deliberation on determining Karen Era, they decided to start counting the chronology from the time Karen people competed their second phase of migration to the land now known as Burma, BC 739.

Third, the Karen New Year Day calls for unity among different tribes of Karen people, because it is recognized and celebrated by all Karens (Sqaw, East Pwo and West Pwo) regardless of their creeds and linguistic affiliation. Of the many holidays that the Karen people celebrate annually, only the New Year celebration brings together Karens of all different backgrounds.

May the New Year bring our people the kind of unity that our forefathers had sought for in their fight for the recognition of Karen New Year Day.

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