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Foreigners banned at Naga festival

A Naga man, dressed as a warrior, poses for a photograph at a local festival.
Published on 22 Dec. 2009 1:15 AM IST
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Foreign tourists have been banned from attending the Naga New Year’s festival this year by the Burmese military government, according to Rangoon-based tour companies. No reason was given for the ban. Travel agencies in Rangoon which has provided tours to the festival for years said on Monday that tourists will not be allowed to attend the festival this year, The Irrawaddy magazine reported on its website. Well-known S. S. T Tourism company also said it has cancelled its tour for foreign travelers. “Even the number of in-bound tourists for the beginning of the 2009-10 season is up over the previous year,” an employee said. “Most were allowed to visit Pagan, Inlay lake and Mrauk-Oo.” The festival is one of the best opportunities for foreign travelers to visit the remote Naga region, located near Indian-Burma border, and to experience one of Asia’s last authentic traditional culture events. The Nagas are part of the Tibetan-Burman group and live throughout the northwest region of Burma. After harvesting their crops, the Naga celebrate with a New Year’s festival to welcome in the next season. The festival is a social event to exchange experiences from the previous year and to make plans for the coming year. Prayers are made for abundant crops, domestic animals and good weather. Annually, Naga festival is held from January 11 to 17. According to the “Weekly Eleven” journal in Rangoon, 36 foreign tourists visited the festival in Lashi Township in 2001. In 2004, 176 tourists attended the festival.

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