October 18, 2016

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Tourists, locals enjoy traditional elephant dance festival in Kyaukse

A dummy elephant seen dancing in the presence of spectators.
A dummy elephant seen dancing in the presence of spectators.

The Kyaukse Elephant Dance festival is an impressive show that is steeped in history. King Anawrahta (1015-1078) is one of Myanmar’s most famous rulers and considered the father of the Myanmar Kingdom. He is also the founder of Kyaukse.
This year’s opening ceremony of the Elephant Donation festival and elephant dummy dancing competition 2016 took place at the elephant competition grounds at the bottom of Shwe Thar Lyaung hill in Kyaukse, Mandalay Region on 15 October.
U Soe Than, the Minister for Agriculture, Livestock Breeding and Irrigation, and a member of Mandalay Region Government and Mandalay Region Hluttaw representatives attended the opening ceremonies.
A total of 29 teams — 17 traditional elephant teams, 6 sequined costume elephant teams and 6 children’s elephant teams- – participated in the event.
The Kyaukse elephant dance festival has been celebrated every year since the 11th Century, the era of Myanmar King Anawrahta.
Legend has it that King Anawrahta obtained several Buddhist relics on a trip to
China. Upon his return to Myanmar (Burma), he decided to build a pagoda to house the precious relics. He strapped the relics to the back of his elephant and told the elephant to choose a suitable spot for the new pagoda.
The elephant walked straight to the hill east of Kyaukse and knelt.
It was at this spot that the king built Shwe-tha-lyaung Pagoda, which remains there to this day.
In this year’s celebration, the competition teams from various wards of Kyaukse, accompanied by drums, oboe, cymbals, brass gongs and bamboo clappers, toured around the Kyaukse Myo Ma bazaar three times. The teams competed in front of a panel of judges in different prize categories — Ks1 million for first prize, Ks8 lakh for second prize and Ks6 lakh for third prize in the traditional elephant dance competition; Ks8 lakh for first prize, KS6 lakh for second prize and Ks4 lakh for third prize in sequined elephant dance competition and Ks6 lakh for first prize, KS4 lakh for second prize and Ks2 lakh for third prize in children’s elephant dance competition. KBZ bank presented the cash prizes to the winners.
The roads and streets during this year’s festival were crowded with pilgrims as well as tourists, some of whom travelled great distances in order to observe this unique cultural celebration.


Thiha Ko Ko (Mandalay)


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