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November 20, 2019

Rakhine People and Customary Storytelling

  • By Maung Mayu ( Buthidaung )
Grandfather telling children a story.

Most young people in our society show fewer respects for their elders. Most of them don’t know how to bend their bodies while walking in front of the ward elders and teachers. That sort of behavior is hardly seen nowadays. Paying less respect by the youth shows a weakening of moral character. Books and literary works could mainly help develop the moral character of today’s youth. But there are very few bookshops and libraries in townships in Rakhine State. That is why the most effective and best way for the culture of the new generation is to practice customary storytelling. It is not only the easiest for everyone but also a Rakhine tradition.
Storytelling as fables
These stories are also known as fables. These fables are said to have descended from Rakhine people. The Rakhine Vaseli enjoyed absolute tranquility. At that time, there were no crimes, thus creating absolute tranquility in the royal palace. During that peaceful time, Queen Danda Devi used to tell stories to the royal attendees. With reference to Danda Devi, these stories are termed as fables. Therefore, customary storytelling flourished in the Rakhine Kingdom many years ago. It has flourished in Rakhine State before the advent of radios and videos. The elderly such as grandfathers and grandmothers used to tell stories to children at bedtime, to a group of kids in a moonlit night and under shady trees drinking cups of tea.
Nowadays the world is growing faster day by day. With a progressive world, things have materialized day in, day out. Today, youths have been imbued with a desire for materialized things. They are gradually far away from traditional culture, replacing storytelling with video games. That might be the reason why Rakhine customary storytelling has gradually disappeared.
Traditional storytelling by the name of kyache( small tiger) and hnache (small cow) and mayhtwemay and kyatchemay and ngabyanye( lazy man ) has not known for the new generation. Children love to listen to these stories which are comprised of things noteworthy, emulations, avoidance of evil things and humor. Literature encourages one’s heart whereas a branch of literature dealing with knowledge does to one’s brain. Storytelling involves both branches and listening to storytelling helps the development of children’s brains but also making a healthy heart. A young man imbued with heart and soul will become an outstanding youth without wavering of moral character.
Telling customary stories to a new generation will instill deterrent principles of shame and fear for the benefits of human societies. Telling customary stories will introduce the history of Rakhine people which is not included in the Myanmar textbooks. The history would reveal how King Maryu established Rakhine Danyawaddy; King Sandathuriya in third Danyawaddy Era invited Lord Buddha respectfully and Thandwe town was flying in circles. These stories instill knowledge about the history of our people into a new generation.
One thing one has to take into account is that storytelling involves the attractions of the listeners. In order to make children interested in storytelling, rise and fall of voices must be accompanied by spirited and forceful gestures so that children should keep the stories in their memory. Therefore, deterrent principles of shame and fear and nationalism should be strengthened in their minds.
Getting good habits
If children listen to stories repeatedly, they tend to improve listening skills. Listening skills are closely related to speaking skills; listening to stories interestingly would pave the way for reproducing them in front of the public without the slightest hesitation. These oratorical skills are found in world-famous people such as Oprah Winfrey and Martin Luther King.
So we need for a new generation to maintain the strong moral character and increase of knowledge and culture and instill patriotism. The people especially Rakhines are strongly urged to practice storytelling to become world-famous orators. As storytelling is on the verge of extinction, the people especially Rakhines should try to revive the customary storytelling for future generations.

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