Myanmar has a long history dating back several thousand years. The traditions and culture of Myanmar as well as the philosophy of life of it's people, the majority of who are Buddhists, has been shaped profoundly by Buddhism. Hence, Myanmar, regardless of their race or ethnic origin, are peace-loving, friendly, generous and hospitable. They also have an innate sense of duty to family, community and country.
In Myanmar, there is a tradition, particularly in the rural areas, of people collectively helping with each other's work and participating in communal activities. People in the village, for example, will collectively help each other in such activities as cultivating and harvesting paddy and other crops, repairing bunds of paddy fields, digging wells, repairing roofs of houses etc.. This age old tradition is called "Let-Sar-Like". It can be translated roughly as " Lending a Hand ".
Also, Myanmar Buddhists believe that contributing voluntary labour for such activities as construction of roads and bridges, building of pagodas, monasteries, schools, hospitals etc. which are for common good, will gain them merit, both for this existence and for the next. Such voluntary contribution of labour is referred to as " Loke-Aah-Pay ".
Thus in many road and bridge building projects undertaken by public works or regional bodies, there in no dearth of "Loke-Aha-Pays " from the towns and villages through which the roads pass, and which stand to benefit from such roads. Even in the urban areas,"Loke-Aah-pay"activities, on an occasional weekend or public holiday for cleaning up the neighbourhood, repairing road, planting trees, clearing clogged drains etc., are undertaken by volunteers from the house-holds of the respective wards or streets.
"Loke-Aah-Pay" for any purpose, of large groups of people, whether in the villages or in the town, is quite often carried out to the accompaniment of music and dance by small music troups, made up of youthful members of the community. Such music troups, called " Dohbat Waing " comprise basically of Ozi (Drum), Cymbals, Flute and Bamboo Clappers. There is usually a male solo dancer (some times accompanied by a female dancer as well) who performs dances to the lively music and songs of the music troup. It is not only to entertain those who are contributing voluntary labour, but also to announce to all and sundry that " Loke-Aah-Pay "is in progress. The "Loke-Aah-Pays " usually work from early morning for some hours. After work, all of them may join in for a feast of glutinous rice, grilled dried fish and plain tea provided by the community.
The traditional practices of "Let-Sar-Like " and "Loke-Aah-Pays " not only contribute to community development but also to bringing closer, members of the community and thus help to foster solidarity in the building of peaceful and developed nation.