Namhkam festival cancelled in wake of bombings

Namhkam festival cancelled in wake of bombings

An annual Buddhist festival has been cancelled in Namhkam following a series of bomb blasts and incidents across Burma including an explosion in the northern Shan state town which left one man dead and another injured.

The festival, which is celebrated from the 7th to 9th days of the waning moon of Thadingyut [Burmese calendar month], was scheduled to take place this week. Known locally as “Pwe Saosam”, it is an annual occasion for Buddhist residents in Namhkam and more than 100 nearby villages to gather at local monasteries to make merit and pray.

U Sai, a member of the festival organising committee, said the event will not be held this year due to concerns for public safety following the bombings.

“We cancelled plans to host the festival this year due to security concerns following the bomb blasts in the town,” said U Sai. “The decision was made by the town’s officials and elders at a meeting on 18 October.”

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On 16 – 17 October, three bombs exploded in separate incidents in Namhkam. One municipal staff worker was killed and another person injured. Another bomb exploded on 21 October on the side of the road outside of the town, though no one was injured.

U Sai said that a 1.3 million kyat (US$1,400) donation was collected and presented to the family of the deceased bomb victim, 600,000 kyat of which was donated by the municipal office and the rest from sympathisers.

Meanwhile, Namhkam is reported to be quiet with almost no people in the streets after 7pm. Some residents are being assigned to night shift security duties in their neighbourhoods alongside local authorities, fire brigades and the police force.

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