The Sound of Music from the Cemetery Of Arakanese Countryside.
Did I scare you??? Or are you scared? You do not have to be. But I can understand that one could be scared when they happen to read the title of my article. You might think that it is the ghosts that are singing from the graveyard or the Cemetery. But no, it is not the ghosts who are singing but people -a real human beings including my father. But why? Why are they singing in the cemetery? Besides, not only are they singing but they are also dancing. Dancing? What kind of dance would they do in a cemetery? Cha Cha? Tango? Break dance? Cancan? No nothing like that . We calle it Ta Lar Aka, the dance of ta lar. I explain it to you what “Ta lar aka “ is.
It sounds a bit wierd, doesn,t it? Yes, it is. But this is one of Rakhine's ( Arakanese) typical tradition which is done at the funeral ceremonies. Well, of course, Funerals are something to be sad about but, as we are Buddhist, we understand that nothing last forever and every one will die one day. We believe in Karma and rebirth and our aim is to enter Nirvana after the ending of rebirth. When a person die, Arakanese people would like to wish the dead person to enter Nirvana as soon as possible in future as he or she wants to end this life cycle. I think this tradition is based on the idea of Buddhism. Well, let me go into details of what the Arakanese do when a person dies. I have seen a lot ceremonies like that when I was in my village. When a person dies, many people especially from the village head off to this house and people gather and help with all the work that need to be done. They put the corpse on a board which is made of bamboo( the board is the same size of dead person and it is make with green and fresh bamboo). We call it “Khat” in our mother tongue. The next day ,all the people who knew the dead person will come to attend the funeral service. According to each different situation, the body might be buried or cremated in the next day or kept it for a few days.
The interesting thing is that people prepare a beautiful box for the body and they make the most colourful Ka Ta Lar( see the picture) which is covered with beautiful paintings and the body in the box suppose to be carried with this Ta lar. They put the box into the Ta lar and carry it to the cemetery. The families follow, crying behind the people who carry Ta lar. When they get the cemetery , they would do dancing carrying the Ta- Lar with music. The Musicians would play the traditional music which is supposed to be played only for the funeral and sing . The song has only three sentences. It goes like this “Buddha say da nar.., Buddha say da na..Buddha say da nar... Aww lay lay Niban Ma pho.. Aww lay lay Niban Ma pho.. Naung dot ko Naung dot ko lay..” which means Buddha's goodwill, Buddha's goodwill, Buddha's goodwill, we wish you to enter Nirvana in future. They repeat thae song many times and dance to it. For many inspiring dances, the musicians would play different music. If we are lucky enough, a group of well-trained young men come from other village and offer some fantastic dances with Ta-lar. After around two hours of entertaining, they stop dancing and they will finish the follow. Dancers have to do some weeks of training before their dance. I remember that my father was very busy when some one die in the village. Well.. I think you know now about the sound of the music from the cemetery of the Arakanese countryside. It is not sung by the ghosts but by real human beings including my father..