61st Mon National Day held in London
The 61st Mon National Day was celebrated in London (United Kingdom) on the 16th February 2008. The event was organised by the newly-established Generation of Mon Society UK (GMSUK).
Over 300 people attended the festivities, at the Cardinal Wiseman High School in Greenford. Participants included forty-plus Mon people, as well as a wide range of other ethnic nationalities from Burma, and several dozen British people.
The afternoon began with a Mon and Burmese food festival, which got the proceedings off to a delicious start! A formal ceremony was held in the early evening, which included paying respect to the Mon national flag, followed by a welcome speech from Nai Talanon, Chairman of the GMSUK. After this, Nai Saik Chan gave a speech about Mon literature and political history. The guest speaker was Ashley South, author of 'Mon Nationalism and Civil War in Burma: the Golden Sheldrake', who spoke about the enduring strength of Mon national culture.
The formal speeches were followed by some wonderful traditional dances and singing, by (among others) Shwe Hinthar, Group Thingyan, Royal Dance and Courtryside Mon Youths' Custom. The Mon 'hongsa' ('hintha') dances were particularly well-received, as they demonstrated the beauty and sophistication of Mon culture.
The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the 'a-nyein' comedy show, which was brilliantly performed by four comedians Datsi, Diesel, Mobile, Online and dancer Mi Art Mon. The audience particularly enjoyed the satirical 'Welcome to Myanmar' sketch, in which the 'comedy foreigner' was first strapped into his aircraft seat for the flight to Burma, and then had his mouth taped shut, "for his own and the country's safety". This traditional 'a-nyein' performance was directed by artist Htein Linn, who looked very dashing in his trademark black hat.
The Mon National Day celebrations were greatly enjoyed by everyone present, and reflected very positively on the organisers from the GMSU. The event demonstrated that Mon Society is thriving in the UK, a long way from the land of the Golden Sheldrake.