UMD 12 Festivals and Events as a Manifestation of Community Cohesion Buddhist and Hindus Residents in an Impoverished Urban Neighborhood
UMD 12 Festivals and Events as a Manifestation of Community Cohesion: Buddhist and Hindu Residents in an Impoverished Urban Neighborhood Author: Chan Myawe Aung San This paper describes cultural and religious festivals and events in an impoverished urban Yangon mixed-ethnicity neighborhood where Buddhists and Hindus reside together. This community lives in cramped quarters, the residents largely earn their livings in the informal sector, and public services are largely neglected. There is a sizable community of Indian people who are mostly devotees of Hinduism. They are able to perform and participate in their own cultural and religious practices and live peacefully with their Buddhist neighbors. They have representatives in the township administration and space available in the neighborhood—including religious halls and the concrete pavement—which they use for communal activities and everyday practices. The neighborhood celebrates a number of communal festivals and events from both religious traditions. These include Buddhist events like the Neiban-zay festival and novitation and ordination ceremonies for monks, as well as Hindu events like a sword-ladder climbing festival and Navratri. These communal occasions are driven by the religious beliefs and cultural practices of the two dominant faith groups. This paper shows how these occasions bring social benefits to the people, including community pride and the strengthening of relationships among its residents.