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Karenni Dancing

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Uploaded on Oct 4, 2007

Karenni dancing about one of their festival, called "DEE KU".

The Brief History of Karenni's DeeKhu Festival

Karenni people descended from Mongolia desert to China, moving from one place to another place, setting up their cities. However when they could not protect themselves from Chinese oppression, they moved down to the lower part of China. Finally they had to leave from China as the Chinese attacked them again and again.
There were two chiefs who led them when they left China. One was a Chinese man, called "Hey Peh Via Pre" and another one was a Karenni man, named "Kayah Lee Peh". They continued south until they got "Mote Ta Ma" gulf. Then they crossed the Salween river and moved along the beach. The group, which was led by the Karenni man found crabs and cooked them for food. Because they had had no experience cooking crabs, they thought the crabs were not ready to eat and cooked them for several days until they saw the crabs had turned to red.
Because they wanted to continue their trip, the other group that was led by the Chinese man told the Karenni group to follow behind them when they had finished eating the crabs. They said they would leave something to show them the way. When the group led by the Karenni man had eaten the crabs, they followed the other group. The first group left a trail by cutting the cogon grasses and banana trees. As these trees are very fast-growing even though they had just cut them down in the morning, they re-grew again in the evening. When they saw that these trees had re-grown, they thought that they couldn't follow the first group and decided to go back in the old place.
They crossed the Salween river again and moved up to a place, called "Lawleelu", now know as "Kyite Htee Yo" pagoda and stayed there. Because of hard rain, they could not do any planting while they stayed there. Some of them continued to move north to a place, called "Deemawso", and set up to stay there. At that time, no one called it "Karenni State" but "Deemawso State". Then they had a king and he had a daughter, named "DweMehNaw" (Kanyamaw) and the people called the state "DweMehNaw Ngwe Donn State"( Kanyamaw Deemawso Kay) after Karenni people stayed there for many decades.
A group of feudal Yun, one of ethnic groups who are living in Thailand now, defeated in war with the Chinese, moved down and invaded Shan and Karenni States. They oppressed the Karenni people and took them as their slaves. Because Karenni people did not want to suffer anymore, Hae Reh who was among them created a thing called PoeDeeKree, which was made from with an old basket, old clothes, and other things. Then Hae Reh went to the king of Yun and said, "Now we have our new king, so we don't want to stay under you anymore". The Yun King got angry, then called his troops and went to fight the Haw Reh's king of Karenni.
When they arrived the place that Hae Reh said, Hae Reh showed them PoeDeeKree. When the king of Yun saw PoeDeekree, said, "That is just a toy", and kicked it. Then he went back to LoiKaw where his palace was. Hae Reh and the other villagers brought "PoeDeeKree" and sent it outside of village, along the direction that Yun King went. The king of Yun was getting diarrhea when he arrived to Loikaw Palace and later died. When they heard about the king's death, Karenni people gathered their troops and fought back their enemy. In the fighting, Karenni troops made their ration of rice. Because their rice would get rotten and smelly, they changed to use "DeeKhu" which was made with sticky rice. They could use the sticky rice for 4 or 5 days without it going rotten. The Yun troops were defeated and moved up to the northern Shan State. Karenni people are always sending the "PoeDeekree" to the north still now.
Karenni people have been celebrating the "DeeKhu" festival as the emblem of their success. In the eastern Karenni it is called "PawMi" and in western Karenni it is called " Ahe Dho".
When Karenni celebrate the DeeKhu festival, they make DeeKhu and also "PhoeDeeKree". Because three tribes of Karenni, Kayah, Kayaw and Kayan participated in the war, they make small groups of DeeKhu and pick up three of them as one. Still now, an old adage of Karenni says "be united as DeeKhu". They invite their relatives from the other villages to participate with them during DeeKhu festival. They also shoot guns and burn rockets to show the symbol of their success during the festival celebration.
In reality, Deekhu festival is not any religious festival. It is just try to symbolise how Karenni regained their freedom from the feudal Yun. Now Karenni people are celebrating their DeeKhu festival as a cultural custom after the passing of many decades.

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