The Buddhist rite of passage ceremony in Myanmar
Myanmar is a fascinating country steeped in culture with exciting and beautiful festivals held year-round. In Myanmar, these festivals are referred to as Pwe and are often accompanied by religious ceremonies and song and dance. Festivities typically commence in the afternoon with food, drinks, and entertainment and often continue on well into the night.
If you’re lucky you might encounter a Shin Phyu ceremony during your travels. The Shin Phyu is a novitiation ceremony: a rite of passage for all young Burmese boys. In Burmese tradition, every male Buddhist is entered into the order of monks for a minimum of one week which brings good karma to his parents and honor to the family. He must do this at least once in his lifetime and it often takes place from the beginning of April until the start of the Buddhist Lent.
On the day he is to start his tenure, the young novice dresses in colorful robes and makeup which are symbolic of royalty. Next, they are driven around town (on a horse, car or boat) while family members and friends follow closely in their best colorful outfits in the direction of the monastery for the ceremony. Musicians follow the procession adding to the happy and celebratory atmosphere.
Upon arrival at the monastery, the boy pays respect to his parents and the head monk. He then receives his robes and his head is shaved before going into monk-hood. After the ceremony, all guests are invited to enjoy lunch together. If you happen to pass by a novitiation ceremony you can stop and watch from a distance and take pictures. You might even be invited to join in the celebration!
A mere 1.5 hours’ drive south of Bagan is an area called Pakannge, which means “little Bagan” in Burmese. Not found in any of the tourist guide books, this area has been untouched by tourism and traditional Burmese life is still visible wherever you look. If you visit this area in April, you might get lucky and experience the Shin Phyu ceremony for yourself. Visit the charming village of Salay and get up close and personal with some ancient off-the-beaten-path temples, monasteries and much more with our new 2-days 1-night program.
For more information contact Khiri Travel Myanmar on [email protected].