A Courageous Woman Who Promotes Burmese Traditional Performances for Spring Revolution

December 8th, 2023  •  Author:   Honest Information  •  8 minute read
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Khin Phone Moet

A woman, dressed in a full traditional Burmese costume gracefully dances to the rhythm of the Burmese traditional instruments/drums (Hsain Wain), showing a vibrant performance.

She dances not on the big stage with colorful lights, or performing with the Burmese Traditional Orchestra but outdoors on a grass lawn.

The majority of the audience consists of foreigners, with a few Burmese because she is performing in one country abroad, not within her homeland of Burma.

Ma Lwin’s performance is flawless despite not being on a formal stage. She wears a complete Burmese dance ensemble, and moves gracefully in harmony with classical music, showing her talent.

Ma Lwin has been living in England for More than a decade. She came to England last 10 years or so to continue her studies and work. She has a simple dream which is to do what she wants to do but she became one of the active participants in every fundraising event and other activities that support the Spring Revolution since the coup in Burma.

Despite her preference for a simple life, the recent coup in Burma pushed her to engage and contribute, marking a significant shift in her involvement in any singular aspect.

Since the earlier time of the coup, she has joined fellow committed Burmese individuals in actively participating to contribute to the revolution for the country.

She participated in demonstrations against the dictatorship, signed endorsement letters to the embassy, and engaged in actions urging the Burmese Ambassador in the UK to join the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM). Additionally, she actively participated in various activities organized in front of the Burmese Embassy, the Chinese Embassy, and the parliament to raise awareness about the situation in Burma

“At that time, we didn’t seek permission to organize those activities. We had to organize in our ways with cautions,” Ma Lwin explained.

In addition, she helped organize many protests for Burma and she participated in fundraising events with her talent which is dancing.

“Shaving head for fundraising activity”

In the 2021 fundraising event titled “Challenge for Shaving,” by three ​Burmese women in England, Ma Lwin was one of those who shaved to get donations for the Spring Revolution.

When most people in Burma join the parish, or when the weather is hot, or when dealing with some sort of disease, they shave their heads Yet in some countries, people shave their heads only when they are in the condition of chemotherapy for cancer or other health problems.

“In a normal situation, we don’t shave our heads. We shaved it as a challenge for Burma to get support”, said Ma Lwin who participated in this ‘Challenge for Shaving” fundraising activity.

Ma Lwin values her hair. She has had her hair curled only once in her life. She has thought about dyeing her hair several times, but she has never done it once. She once shaved her head when she was 16 years old and ordained as a nun (Thilashin). She is not someone who takes care of her hair so much but she loves her hair. However, when it comes to her commitment to the Spring Revolution, she does not hesitate to shave her hair.

Despite having other ways of fundraising, Ma Lwin chose the head-shaven ways as she would like to explain the others about the Burmese revolution. Whenever people see her bald head, people ask why she shaved her hair since the hair does not grow back quickly. She can then explain the reason why she shaved her hair by explaining the current political situation in Burma.

Ma Lwin admitted, “I felt so bitter beyond words of what happened to our people, their suffering being subjected to the arson committed by the military regime in the middle part of Burma (Dry Zone). I am very pleased to be able to help our people,” said Ma Lwin.

The funds received from the Challenge have been intended to donate to the war-torn people from the Sagaing Region and on the day of the Challenge, over ten thousand British pounds were collected.

“26-mile Jogging Competition “

In August 2023, Ma Lwin organized the 26-mile jogging competition which was participated by 40 people who started walking from the Southwest of London to the Downtown.

Ma Lwin did not participate as a jogger but instead provided support to the participants by offering drinks, and other emergency assistance

They raised approximately £40,000 from this event, which was subsequently donated to the people of Burma through the National Unity Government (NUG).

“Fundraising with Myanmar Traditional Dance”

Ma Lwin has been familiar with Burmese traditional dance since her high school days. Although she was familiar with it, she could not dance systematically. That is why she started learning the Burmese dance systematically through online lessons with a tutor over the past four years.

She was doing other work, she took dancing lessons once a week for three years. As someone passionate about Burmese dance, Ma Lwin is also learning music. Although she is not pursuing Burmese traditional dancing as her professional career she has done a workshop or a traditional dance performance at some international events.

She donated the money that she received from her performances to the Spring Revolution.

“I may not perform a professional job, but whenever I have some free time, I aspire to show about Burma through traditional dance. I want to introduce the world to the arts of Myanmar,” she expressed.

“During Thingyan (Burmese Water Festival/New Year), I dance with my songs, primarily utilizing compositions of my own. If not, I select appropriate songs based on the event,” explained Ma Lwin. “

Furthermore, Ma Lwin is passionate about crafting handmade creative items, specifically designing Burmese dresses for herself and her friends. Over time, she extended this channel by creating Burmese dresses for other close friends who are actively participating in the revolution, using their income to support the greater cause. She is deeply involved in and provides support to the revolution through various means.

“Her dream was ended due to Gender Discrimination in the Education system”

Born in Yangon City but raised in lower Burma, Ma Lwin initially attended Mandalay University before moving to Yangon University. In her childhood, her aspirations were twofold: to become a performer in Myanmar traditional dance and to pursue a career as an engineer.

Being deeply passionate about art, she was completely enamored by the rhythm of Burmese traditional drums and tunes.

Every summer, her family visited lower Burma (Central Burma), where she often watched traditional festivals featuring Burmese traditional drums or instruments.

At the age of four, she disappeared from home, prompting all family members to search for her. They found her sitting in front of a Burmese traditional instrument (Hsain Wain) concentrating on the music, a clear indication of her deep love for Burmese traditional instruments and dance performances.

“I was madly passionate about the Burmese traditional music,” said Ma Lwin.

However, due to the nature of Burmese parents, the traditional lifestyle, and the education system, she could not pursue her hobby instead she had to prioritize her studies. Consequently, she could not devote herself to Burmese dance performances.

Despite aspiring to become an engineer and working hard towards that goal, she could not succeed due to the discriminatory education system in Burma. The system imposed higher score requirements for female students to enter the engineering field, requiring that women need to have higher scores compared to their male counterparts for admission.

“If I were a man, I would have become an engineer, but being a woman, I couldn’t,” expressed Ma Lwin.

Once the revolution is successfully concluded, her sole wish is to return to Burma and pay homage at the Shwe Dagon shrine.

“I want to feel the cold fresh air or warm air with the sound of the bell and silence at the Shwe Dagon Shrine in the early morning or nighttime. I want that feeling,” said Ma Lwin.

Ma Lwin expressed her desire to experience the cool air or the gentle warmth accompanied by the sounds of bells and the serene quiet at the Shwe Dagon Shrine, either in the early morning or at night. She longed for that particular sensation.

She is committed to support for those facing challenges on the ground, offering assistance from any domain, and remaining involved until the end of the revolution. She anticipates receiving international support and encourages aid for Burma as well.

“I am delighted to contribute through my artistic endeavors and also have the opportunity to engage in politics based on my beliefs. I feel pride in my actions,” said Ma Lwin.

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