King Mindon’s ancestors pay homage
IN a solemn act of commemoration that echoed from down the centuries, more than 80 elderly descendants of Burma’s last kings gathered on October 7 to pay homage to their royal forebears.
The offering of food to monks in honour of the deceased was the first such act in the 138 years since King Mindon died, in 1878.
Mindon is considered one of the country’s most revered monarchs, having spent much of his reign resisting British colonial rule and trying to modernise his kingdom.
The ceremony took place in Mandalay’s Great Golden Royal Palace, for the first time since the end of colonial rule. British authorities had banned the use of the palace for that purpose since the deposition of the last monarch, King Thibaw, said one of the surviving descendants, Ko Ko Myo. After the British left town, military officials remained reluctant to allow public celebrations within the complex. It wasn’t until the National League for Democracy took office this year that such a ceremony was approved by government officials.
The event brought together greatgrandchildren of King Mindon and Crown Prince Kanaung.
“People think King Thibaw’s generation has vanished, but his descendants are still with us, though scattered since he was sent into exile. It is just over seven years since they last gathered. The Konbaung-era generation are also gathering. It’s very significant that we were allowed to hold the event in the palace. We are here to represent the people,” said U Soe Win, 71, a greatgrandson of King Thibaw.
Another commemoration is planned for November 22 in the palace to mark the departure of King Thibaw into exile, and the king’s death, in Yadanargiri, India, will be commemorated in December, he said.
The oldest of King Thibaw’s descendants, Htaik Su Phyar Gyi (94), Taw Pha Yar and Thamee Taw Gyi (both 93) took part in the commemoration.