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Myanmar > Pictures and travelogues > Rakhine State Day festival in Ngapali

Rakhine State Day festival in Ngapali (Thandwe), Myanmar: pictures from games.

Rakhine traditional wrestling in Ngapali, Myanmar
Rakhine traditional wrestling in Ngapali, Myanmar. Rakhine State Day festival.

Rakhine State (also called Rakhaing State or Arakan) is one of the 7 States, each of which has a majority ethnic group of Myanmar. With the 7 Regions, these 7 States make Myanmar. Rakhine State is located in the west of the country along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. A little less than 4 million people live in the State. They mainly belong to the ethnic group of the Arakanese. Various other ethnic groups represent about a quarter of the population of the State.

Rakhine State has several tourist attractions. But the beaches on the Indian ocean, particularly in Ngapali, attract most foreign visitors.

Rakhine State was once an independent Kingdom. Throughout its history, it faced various foreign invasions. Finally, in 1784, the son of the Burmese King Bodawpaya (Konbaung Dynasty) conquered Arakan and annexed it to Burma. Still today, the local population ask for a larger autonomy. 

Tug of war by women, Myanmar
Tug of war by two teams of women, Rakhine State Day festival, Myanmar.

In December, the Rakhine State celebrates its State holiday, thus giving rise to many festivities. At Ngapali, the festival includes a mini-marathon (which starts early in the morning) and a series of games of local people. With a few exceptions, foreign tourists do not attend these games since most of them are unaware of them.

These games take place in a fervent but friendly atmosphere. They include competitions of chinlone (the national sport of the country), tug of war, slippery pole climbing, games for young children and many others. Traditional wrestling is the highlight of the festival.

Wrestling is a competition between two athletes. Each tries to bring down the other to the ground by force and by the technique. In the Rakhine State, traditional wrestling follows special rules. The competition requires speed, alertness, endurance and intelligence. Wretling competitors are rewarded by donations from spectators. 

Slippery pole climbing in Ngapali
Slippery pole climbing in Ngapali, Rakhine State day festival, Myanmar.

Climbing a high greased pole is also a very spectacular competition. The pole is to be climbed by teams or individuals within the fixed time. Teams are usual. It happens that an athlete prefers to climb alone with a long and long scarf that he ties and unties at each level. Most competitors fail to remove the pennant from the top of the pole.

Chinlone game in Ngapali, Myanmar
Chinlone game in Ngapali, Rakhine State Day festival, Myanmar.

inlon is the national sport of Myanmar. In the countryside, the game is played without a net, players form then a circle. Chinlone is called takraw or sepak raga in other Southeast Asian countries.


See also

Myanmar > Pictures and travelogues > Ethnic groups in Myanmar

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Rakhine State Day festival in Ngapali (Thandwe), Myanmar: pictures from games. Comprehensive travel guide to Myanmar with 200 great pictures.