KKU joints the old and the new cultures of Isan in a creative birthday gathering that allow birthday owners of the month to meet up.
On June 27, 2019, at 4.30 p.m., KKU Culture and Community Relation Department hosted a “retrospect Birthday Gathering” for KKU staff whom were born in June. The participants were encouraged to dress in traditional Isaan costume in order to help preserve the dressing tradition of the region. The event held at KKU Sitan reservoir welcomed the present of many guests including the event’s chairperson, Assoc. Prof. Charnchai Panthongviriyakul (M.D.), a KKU President, and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Niyom Wongphongkham, a vice president for culture and community relations.
Dr. Kittisan Sriraksa, a director of KKU cultural center, said this birthday gathering is conducted following the university policy to bring about happiness and raise spirit of KKU people. The event was highlighted with merit making the blessing to the birthday owners by KKU administrators. People attending the event dressed beautifully with Isaan cultural clothes. A famous Isaan Molum singer, Jintana Yensawat, whom is better known as, “Molum Jintana Pakfai” and the Isaan dancing team from the faculty of Fine and Applied Arts took a stage to entertain the guests. The participants took part in a Baslop, a Laos traditional dance led by KKU’s Loas Student Association. Other activities performed in the event included; making souvenir from umbrella painting, making Khunmakbeng—a flower vase made from banana leaf used for worshipping, candle procession, spirit invitation ceremony, freeing fish at Sitan pond, and blowing birthday cake. All KKU people having a birthday in June were invited to the gathering.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Niyom Wongphongkham, a vice president for culture and community relations, told KKU news that it was important to represent the traditional culture to the participants in an assimilating way. The idea of integrating Isaan culture into a birthday celebration is a smart way to bring the fading away culture of Isaan back to life. The integration of the old and the new culture should not be done on the cost and the the contortion of the traditional culture. It is suggested that people are engaged and exposed to the cultural context to eradicate the perception that traditional things are obsolete. Particularly in this birthday gathering, the old Isaan cultures and the current trend of living are smoothly harmonized.
The atmosphere of the birthday gathering was quite retrospect and lively. Over 200 guests attended the event and traditional Isaan costumes were prepared for the participants. People were given paper umbrellas at which they could paint and gave away as souvenirs. Many activities highlighted in the event included; cultural performances, prinkling of holy water from the ceremonial monk, spirit invitation ceremony, freeing fish, processing candles ceremony, making Khunmakbeng, and paying homage to Buddha image. The blowing of birthday cake was completed prior to the blessing from the KKU president.
A part of the president’s birthday blessing reads, “I wish everyone to be happy at work, be successful and progressive in life. I wish this birthday brings you and your family good health and success”.
Boonmeng Namwongsa, a member from Research Institute for Strategy and North East Development, said she was happy to be invited to this cultural birthday gathering that allowed casual meeting up with KKU comrades. She recalled that the event was held some times in the past before I was faded away. She was happy that the activity was made return with additional cultural value. The event allowed her to dress in traditional costumes which happens in a rare occasion in daily life.
Khuan-Om Kinglakmuang, a teacher from Modindang Demonstration School, expressed that he was delighted to see that KKU cares for its people wellness and he is proud to be a part of this organization. Khuan-Om added that the event fostered the interaction and friendship among the KKU people. It was impressive to see that people of different ages interacting at the gathering. The event brings about harmony and love among all KKU people. Khuan-Om was grateful for KKU in hosting this uniting event.
The birthday gathering is conducted under the KKU project named, “creating happy life with height of generosity” which is a project conforming to KKU strategy plan 2020-2023, Strategy Number 6: Happy Working Place, and Indication Number 3: Creating systematic relationship with the university members. The Culture and Community Relations Department is obliged to conduct this cultural birthday gathering the last Thursday of every coming month.
News: Udomchai Supanawong
Photos: Culture Center, Udomchai Supanawong