A Karen celebration for young and old

BENDIGO's Karen community renewed their bonds to friends and family on Saturday, by celebrating the historic wrist-tying ceremony.

About 150 people gathered at a hall in Bendigo South East College, where there were cultural performances - including ancient singing and dancing - and the ceremony itself.

Speaker Nyint Nay led a traditional chant and welcomed attendees to the first wrist-tying ceremony held in Bendigo.

"We are celebrating our past," he said.

Teens from the KBDDF Youth Group performed an ancient dance, then partook in the formalities.

They tied white threads on the hands of older people, to ward off misfortune and evil spirits.

Cold water, rice balls, bananas and sugar canes were also presented in the ceremony, with each having a symbolic significance. 

Bananas, for instance represent good discipline and loyalty, and sugar canes represent good ethics and moral values.

Sabei Thein, who visited Bendigo for the celebration from Melbourne, said the wrist-tying tradition dated back 1000 years.

"One thousand years ago we had a big family and they separated," she said.

"Then they came back together."

"The young people pay respect to the older people by tying on their hands."

Kyapwint, who has been living in Bendigo for about a year and attends Bendigo Senior Secondary College, said the ceremony marked an important day on the Karen calendar.

"We are all happy, we feel glad for the day," he said.

"I love coming together as a community."

Mulolo, who attended the ceremony with her infant one-month-old baby, said it was important Karen traditions were passed on to family members.

"It's very important that they keep the culture," she said.

Speeches were made by community leaders, including City of Greater Bendigo Mayor Barry Lyons, and the day was completed with a traditional lunch.

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