Around 3-and-half hours from its former capital of Yangon, lies a small piece of India in the heart of Myanmar. This place is known as Zeyawaddy, commonly known as the “Little India” of Myanmar. A new bilateral initiative between the Indian and Myanmar governments, called the “Know India Programme”, will help young Myanmar-Indians aged between 18 and 30 learn more about their history and cultural connections in India, MyanmartTmes reported.
India and Myanmar shares close cultural links from ancient times, with similar forms of dress and religious customs. The huge population influxes from India to Myanmar took place during the colonial era when the British used to recruit Indians for both administrative and manual labour.
Myanmar was known as “Suvarnabhumi” or the “Land of Gold” among Indians, because it was seen as providing ample employment and business opportunities.
This very Indian-looking destination has its origins back in the British colonial era when workers were bought from India to help transform the dense forests into farms and paddy fields. Those who live in Zeyawaddy are part of the broader “Myanmar-Indian” population of Myanmar, some of whom may participate in the Know India Programme.
The glimpses of Indian culture, Indian temples, organisations and cuisine can still be found all over Myanmar, especially in the heart of Yangon and Mandalay. All of the major Indian festivals are celebrated here, especially those which originate in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, including the famous Chaath Puja.
Other cities with large Indian-Myanmar populations include Myitgyina, Shwebo, Pathein, Phyu and Kyaktuga. The Holi and Diwali ceremonies are also widely celebrated across Myanmar, as well as Eid and Ramadan.
The Indian-affiliated organisations of Arya Samaj and Sanatan Dharma Swamsevak Sangh (SDSS) are widely active in promoting Indian culture and Hindi languages among children in Zeyawaddy, MyanmarTimes reported.