Students from the Myanmar Student Association at IU organized a cultural festival Sunday afternoon from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Dunn Meadow along with the Myanmar Student Association at IUPUI and the Free Myanmar Campaign, a community-led movement to aid the Spring Revolution, a protest against the military coup that overthrew Myanmar’s elected government in February.
The festival celebrated Thingyan, the Myanmar New Year’s Festival, and Myanmar’s culture with dances, songs and games.
There were also booths on Myanmar’s history and information about how to support the Spring Revolution.
“I think it’s important to cherish the good, instead of focusing on the bad, and it also brings all the members together once a year,” said junior Demerry Thein, who is the vice president of MSAIU.
Volunteers from MSAIU worked tables in Dunn Meadow which displayed portraits, information on the history of Myanmar and trivia games to win tickets to win traditional snacks. Students played games of Chinlone, a traditional sport in Myanmar, similar to a combination of soccer and volleyball, throughout the afternoon.
The celebration included musical performances and dance groups, including one representing the Chin people of Myanmar. A Burmese American Community Institute Unity Dance group also performed on stage in Dunn Meadow.
IU junior Thin Sein showed traditional tools for weaving and sugar cane juicing to visitors, alongside a poster showing the different regions and eight ethnic groups of Myanmar.
A water balloon fight followed the festival, which represents a tradition from Thingyan, the Myanmar New Year’s Festival spanning four to five days each April.
“Traditionally, we pour water on other people to wash away sins for the New Year,” Thin said.
Yan Yan, a member of the Free Myanmar Campaign, part of the Burmese American Community Institute, shared information from his table on the coup in Myanmar and the killing and imprisonment of peaceful protesters and citizens.
He said students held a sit-in at the Sample Gates last month, and people can help the Free Myanmar Campaign with its fundraising to help a Civil Disobedience Movement in Myanmar as well as by writing letters to congressional representatives and senators.
“What’s happening is really really awful — human rights are being violated — and it shouldn’t be happening,” Yan said.
As of April 11, the New York Times reported more than 700 people had been killed by the security forces who declared the 2020 elections fraudulent and seized power in February jailing Aung Sun Suu Kyi, the prime minister.
Thein said the festival turned out better than expected, and she hoped visitors would understand more about Myanmar afterwards.
“I just want them to take away that Myanmar is not well known in the world, people probably don’t know where it is most of the time, but I just want them to take away that this is country that is unique with a lot of culture, our own food, there’s a lot of different ethnicities,” Thien said.