Remember the Father on Martyrs’ Day

Burmese revolutionary and statesman General Aung San (1915 - 1947) during a visit to England, 1947. Original Publication : Picture Post - 4597 - U Aung San - unpub. (Photo by Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
  • What is Arzarni Day? ( Myanmar’s Martyrs’ Day)

Today marks the 7Oth year anniversary since the assassination of Myanmar’s father General Aung San; the epitome of independence, seven other leaders and a body guard at The Secretariat Building.

Arzarni Day or The Burmese Martyrs’ Day is a national holiday. There is no work or school on this day so people of Myanmar usually rest at home or go out in remembrance of the leaders who sacrificed their lives for the country.

  • What’s going on today?

At approximately 10:37 a.m., if you are near enough, you can hear the sirens from the Martyrs’ Mausoleum. You can also hear the sirens from the mausoleum broadcasted through the radios and television. When people hear this siren, everybody immediately stops what they’re doing and stand still or bow to pay respect. People in Myanmar call the siren the “Oak Aw Swae Tan”, or the cuckoo sound. The sound of the siren lasts for about 90 seconds.

If you are in a car or a train, the drivers usually honk their horns to honor this moment. After the siren, follows the song called Ah Lay Pyu Par Tae, translated to “I salute”, sang by singer May Hla Myaing. The sound of the siren gives the people goosebumps and the lyrics of the song envelopes one with sadness.

Another way the Burmese people celebrate this day is by pulling the national flag halfway down the pole to show their grief. They also like to eat General Aung San’s favorite breakfast “Pae Pyote” (boiled garden pea) and “Nan Pyar” (Indian flat bread) in the morning. You can buy this in almost any tea shops that are located in many corners of Yangon.

  • What can we do on this day?

1. Visit the Secretariat Building

The Secretariat Building is being renovated to welcome visitors on Martyrs’ Day. (Photo: Ringle Marine Services)

It is a rare opportunity to enter The Secretariat Building. The old-colonial building is still under renovation, but part of it will be open on the day for visitors. This year, visitors are allowed to see the entrance of the cabinet meeting room, where the assassination took place.

Location: Thein Phyu Road,Mahabandoola Road, Yangon,

Hours: 8.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m.

Admission: Free

2. Pay Respect at The Martyrs’ Mausoleum

Six martyrs, including General Aung San are entombed at the Mausoleum. It is commonplace for high ranking officials to visit the mausoleum on Martyrs’ Day. The Mausoleum is open for public to pay respect since 2011.

Location: Martyr’ Mausoleum, Ar Zar Ni St, Yangon, Myanmar (gate number 1)

Hours: 12.00 p.m – 5.00 p.m.

3. Walk through the history at the Bogyoke Aung San Museum

Now a museum, this two story building was once General Aung San’s residence. You can feel General Aung San’s presence, learn about his history and look at the displays of their family room, dining room, bedrooms, library, living room, as well as famous speeches and family pictures in this museum. This is also the house where our current State Counselor of Myanmar, daughter of General Aung San, Aung San Su Kyi once resided.

Location: No. 15 Bogyoke Aung San Lane, Bahan Township, Yangon, Myanmar

Hours: 6.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.

Admission: Free for both local and foreigners on this day

  • Tips for the Day

– In the morning, people who have to travel to downtown area may have to check and plan first as there will be road closure in many areas especially areas close to the Secretariat Building.

– For those who would like to visit the Secretariat Building, it is advised to go in the afternoon. There can be a very long queue in the morning.

– According to the weather forecast, rain is expected throughout the day. Please also bring your umbrella.

Thiri T. OO contributed to the story.

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