The Shan New Year
The Shan New Year - Marking Shan Unity
According to the Shan Calendar, today is the First Moon of the First Lunar Month. It markes the new year, 2094. It is celebrated all over the Shan State.
Actually, says Zuenkornlai, one of the foremost linguistic and historical Shan scholars, the Shan New Year has already been in order since over 4,000 years ago.
"Our ancestors, in those days, counted their years by names and not by numbers. Altogether, sixty years, beginning with the Year of Garbzy are needed to complete a cycle".
However, in B.C. 95, unity was achieved among ten Shan principalities, led by the Mao prince, Khun Yi, regarded as a truly memorable event, and a decision was taken to mark it by counting each year in numbers, said Zuenkornlai.
This tradition was abandoned after Shans fell sway to the neighboring powers of Burma and China in the 16th century, the former in 1555 and the latter in 1593. Those years marked the beginning of the adoption of Burmese and Chinese systems of calendar instead.
The revival started soon after the coup det'at of General Ne Win in 1962, when he overthrew democracy in Burma. "For unity's sake", as the regime put it, all political organizations apart from the Burma Socialist Program Party, set up by the military, were dissolved. Instead, only literature and culture groups were allowed to form.
In 1966, the Mao Valley Literature and Culture Group, reactivated the celebration of the Shan New Year. The next year, it spread to Lashio, the capital of northern Shan State, and three years afterwards, it fanned out to the south and the east. By the mid-seventies, the tradition was firmly re-instituted.
In Thailand, the Shan New Year has been celebrated since 1986. It was initiated by three Thais of Shan ancestry - Thoon, Sang and Chaichuen Khamdaeng Yordtai.
This year it shall be observed simultaneously in Ban Hintaek (Mae Faluang District, Chiangrai), Pangkhwai (Fang District, Chiangmai), Watpapao (Muang District, Chiangmai), Fawiang-inn (Wianghaeng District, Chiangmai), Mae-Lana (Pangmapha District, Maehongson) and Bangkok.
N.B. The Shan New Year is exactly two months ahead of the Chinese New Year.