Ottama Day observed in Burma

(Sittwe, 12 September 2013) : With an aim to pay tributes to the prominent Arakanese  monkSaradaw Ottama, the Rakhine State government had observed his 74th death anniversary in the capital city Sittwe on 9 September last.

The government authorities held the ceremony with the offering of food to 15 monks and laying the wreath & candles in front of Ottama monument in the Ottama garden of Sittwe to mark his sacrifice for the cause of Burma’s independence, informed U Aung Mra Kyaw, a Rakhine State lawmaker from Sittwe township.

Born in 1879,  Ottama passed away in 1939 during the British rule in Burma. Initially the Burmese government in Rangoon used to observe the death anniversary of  Ottama, but  the military regime that seized power in 1962,  had never organized the program in the honour of the patriotic monk.

“This is the first time, after five decades of reluctance, the Ottama Day was celebrated in Rakhine State of Burma. Earlier the Burmese government in Rangoon did not allow the authorities to observe the Ottama Day. Now the attitude of the government is changed and it shows a major policy shift by the authorities,” added U Aung Mra Kyaw.

We welcome the government decision to pave way for the celebration. The program received a crowded response from the common people, where the representatives from political parties, social organizations, woman organizations and student organizations actively participated in the ceremony, the lawmaker revealed.

Ko Min Soe Khaing, a student leader from Sittwe University said that they had never witnessed such a public ceremony on Ottama Day earlier.

“We were able to distribute some pamphlets regarding the Ottama Day. We feel happy that we could held the Day in Sittwe without any fear or disturbances from the authority,” added Ko Min Soe Oo.

The Arakanese community under the Rakhine Affairs ministry of Yangon division also organized various programs on the Ottama Day at Myanmar Convention Center in Rangoon, where nearly 10000 people including the monks participated.

Many prominent politicians of Burma including the democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, U Tin Oo, Ko Min Ko Naing, Ko Pyon Cho with the Rakhine Affairs minister U Zaw Aye Maung and Arakanese leader U Aye Tha Aung also attended the ceremony.

“The ceremony at Myanmar Convention Center was dedicated to Ottama, who greatly sacrificed for our country’s independence. We started the public lecture about Ottama by 1 pm, which was listened by 10000 people,” said the Rakhine Affairs minister.

Saradaw Ottama is considered as the first architect of the independence struggle of Burma as he initiated to organize the Burmese people to fight against the British colonial rulers. The date of his demise was designated as the Ottama Day by the people and the government.

The Arakanese people living outside the country also used to observe the Day, which was later banned by the military rulers. The 74th anniversary of Ottama Day was also organized in many countries including Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and the USA by the Arakanese communities there.