Sittwe authorities restrict rice donation event

Oct 13, 2008 (DVB), Sittwe authorities have placed restrictions on the number of monks invited to tomorrow's Thedinkyut full moon day rice donation, allowing only two monks per monastery to attend, locals said.

Sittwe holds an annual rice donation festival on Thedinkyut full moon day and rice is usually donated to over 1500 monks, but this year local authorities have place a limit of only 550 monks.

A resident of Sittwe, which has more than 200 monasteries, said local authorities had said that only two monks per monastery could attend the donation.

"Local authorities, with the cooperation of the township’s government-elected Sanga Nayaka chairperson [monk leader] U Thawma, have limited the invitation of monks to the festival to two monks per one monastery, so only about 550 monks will be attending this year’s rice donation festival," the resident said.

"Ward authorities in Sittwe also collected the personal details of every monk invited to the festival such as their names and the names of the monasteries where they were staying," he said.

"We hold the donation festival every year to maintain good relations between monks and their lay followers. But this year, the authorities are putting limitations on this activity."

The resident said that local authorities had also laid on tight security around Phayagyi pagoda where the festival will be held, with riot police and military troops surrounding the area.

Security was tightened in Sittwe at the end of last month after 150 monks staged a silent march on 27 September to commemorate last year's Saffron Revolution.

Reporting by Yee May Aung

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