myanmar culture & tradition
Novitiation ceremony is the unique characteristic in Myanmar. This
ceremony usually celebrates during the school holidays, mostly in
summer holidays at March & April before the water festival. In the
Myanmar tradition the boys are compulsory to enter the Buddhist
order for a week or more.
In the Myanmar Buddhist tradition it is compulsory that every boys
over eight years old to twenty have to enter the Buddhist Order for
a week or more as a novice and over twenty they have to enter the
Order again as Ordained Monk. At least twice in his life he becomes
a member of the Order and sometimes even more. They stay at a
monastery is not considered a hardship because it is a blessing for
the whole family as well as for the boys themselves. Monks or
novices can stay as long as they wish.
A formal Novitiation ceremony involves a parade around the pagodas
on the first day with the boys all dressed up as princes. In the
afternoon their heads will be shaven and they will enter the Order.
On the same day or the next there will be a feast for monks and
invited guests. If sisters of the Novices have their ears pierced at
the same time, they also are the important participants in the
At the ceremony the line of a dozen cars drive orderly with musical
troop follow an a roofless truck car playing music and songs loudly
for dancer who take place on the roof top with funny dance to amuse
people. To pay homage to the Buddha they go to a famous pagoda at
their town, parade clockwise to the pagoda, the parents take place
at the front, the fathers carry the Alms bowl and fan and the
mothers carry the casket contain robes. Next to them are Monks-to-be
and Novices-to-be with their attended holding Gold umbrella over
them and a group of girls carry decorated offertories follow them in
line. Musical troop and their merry making dancer make all the funs
and tease the girls. After the pagoda they have to visit a nat
(sprit) shrine for homage. Then finally go to the monastery shave
the hair and ask permission from the Abbot to be novice. As a novice
he has to observe eight precepts and learn the Buddha teachings from
Novitiation is the obligation for every parent, rich or poor, since
it is believe to be a great meritorious deed which could prevent
them to be at the evil realm.
Puppetry is the
most popular show in Myanmar arts and culture. The puppets are
backed by expert manipulators who conversed, joked and relative
humorous stories through their puppets to the delight of the
audience. At least four manipulators took charge of a character
using handling rods and strings at the back of the curtain and give
voice to the puppets. Puppets are beautifully dressed in lavish
embellishment with gilded materials and semi precious gems, depends
on their characters.
Puppet shows usually take place at pagoda festivals, which are like
country fairs. Marionette theatre is now mostly confined to tourist
venues in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan.
One of the first thing that the first time visitors notice sooner or later is
the faces of the women of all ages and children coating with yellowish white
Then they ask the guide: What is that white stuff on their faces? What is that
The guide explain them proudly about the "Thanaka" which is the beauty secret of
Myanmar women. In the bedroom of a Myanmar woman on the floor besides the
dressing table there has an 8" long Thanaka wood cutting, a flat circular
surfaced whetstone or grind stone and a small water bottle with a pore on the
lid. After a bath she sits at the whetstone put several drops of water on it and
rub the Thanaka cutting on the whetstone continuously at a circular motion with
body pressure. Because of the friction of water soaked whetstone and the Thanaka
wood bark the paste forms on the whetstone. When the enough paste of Thanaka
deposited on the whetstone, it has collected by forefinger and apply on the face
Thanaka is truly an organic medication for a skin condition and multipurpose.
Since mildly astringent and emits a fragrant aroma it is good to use as a
combination of skin conditions, perfume and cosmetic.
It cools the skin; control oiliness by tightens pores and thus prevents pimples,
as well as being a most effective sun block. Its use originated with the women
when transplanting rice seedlings in the paddy fields on the month of July,
August under the tropical sun exposure. To protect from excruciating hot rays of
the sun, the women wear thick layer of Thanaka on their arms and faces. For the
city girls Thanaka is applied for beauty as natural make-up and for fragrant
It should say Thanaka is the gift of the Saint to Myanmar women. Because Thanaka
trees are very hardly thrive well on non-fertile soil of Upper Myanmar arid
region where there has a little rainfall. Thanaka trees are perennials and the
age must be 35 years old to be mature enough to yield good quality cuttings.