Photo Essay: Tug of War for Rain © Bo Gyi

Photo Essay

Photo Essay: Tug of War for Rain
© Bo Gyi

Location: Mandalay, Myanmar.
Year: 2019

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After the Myanmar New Year festival in the early weeks of this year April, day time temperature in some cities including Yangon is a record high. The most affected cities are those located in the middle part of Myanmar. Extreme heat and drought in this area are very usual in April and May of each year.

However, this year heat is critical high with 42 deg C and above in most cities. Some are pointing out that the deforesting in past decades is the culprit of such high temperature.
Along with public concern, heat shelters are erected in these cities. Some people go for extra miles as they are hosting city-wide tug of wars for rain.

Some people in Myanmar traditionally believe that tug of war can bring the rain. This traditional belief is said to be started from the King Shin Ma Htee of Bagan era, as follow. In the time of King Shin Ma Htee, a rich man called Kyaw Swar was killed by the King and he became a Nat-Moe Khaung Kyaw Swar Nat and stationed at Mount Poppa. Moe Khaung Kyaw Swar Nat was too angry with the King upon his killing and he uses his power to create the drought in Bagan by sealing the rain clouds from Mount Poppa.

After the King has consulted with his advisers and astrologers, he was told that the solution to drought was to make the King and his administrative staffs get tired and suffered, which can make Moe Khaung Kyaw Swar Nat happy and he will release the rain clouds to Bagan, in return. Then, the King made an order to host tug of war in Bagan. The King himself, his staffs and people participated in the tug of war event. During this event, Moe Khaung Kyaw Swar Nat was dancing happily on the rope and it brought the rain and finally ended the drought in Bagan.

Due to driven force by above traditional belief, tug of war for rain could still be seen in the future, in Myanmar.

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