Some Admirable Myanmar Customs

By Aung Kyaw Lin

Every country has its own customs. Similarly, Myanmar has its own traditions and customs. Some customs are just a few decades old, while some have their roots in the time immemorial. These customs are admirable. In Myanmar culture, there is Myanmar music. “Saing-waing” (a drum circle) is Myanmar people’s own music. Myanmar Saing-waing carries various kinds of melodies, and it is a splendid sight to behold. According to Myanmar customs, Myanmar Saing-waing is a must in alms-giving ceremonies and is also the pride of social and religious ceremonies in Myanmar. There are other kinds of Myanmar music, such as “ozi” and “dobat”, to entertain guests in celebration of the traditional ceremonies in Myanmar. Our country is always filled with the pleasant sounds of the Myanmar orchestra, ozi, dobat and drums. This Myanmar music is admirable.
Myanmar people are hospitable. The hosts cordially receive the guests who arrive home from far away. They usually unroll a mat, the edges of which are bound with velvet for the guests in the sitting room. They serve their guests tea leaf salad, ginger salad, plain tea, betel quid, and cheroot. Every house has them ready for visitors. It is also a rare Myanmar custom.
Another admirable Myanmar custom is the custom of donning traditional clothing. Traditionally, Myanmar women wear a simple blouse and htami (sarong for females). Myanmar men usually wear taik-pon aingyi (jersey for males) and yaw longyi (sarong for males). Myanmar’s traditional outfits are secure and elegant. So, this custom of wearing traditional clothing is also an admirable one.
Myanmar people also express their goodwill towards strangers. It is a cool-water stand, a small shrine-like structure with a roof for seating two or three earthen pots of cool-drinking water. They locate the cool-water stands under a shady tree to quench the thirst of all passers-by and the unknown travellers with parched lips and dry throats. Myanmar Buddhists believe that offering water to weary travellers is an act of merit. Besides, they build wayside public houses for tired wayfarers to take a rest on the way before they reach their destination. These two customs of the Myanmar people are the symbols of their goodwill towards strangers. As Buddhists, Myanmar people make different offerings such as the Shinbyu-Nartha Ceremony, Waso Robes Offering Ceremony, building wayside public rest houses and religious edifices, and Catu-disa (traditional charity) feeding. The donors and their relatives, friends, and guests from a distance take part in ceremonies. On such ceremonial occasions, the donors serve them breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a feeding enclosure. The main dishes are pork, chicken, beef and dried fish. After making various offerings, the donors and the participants listen to the sermon delivered by the Sayadaw, the chief monk of a monastery. Then, the donors pour libation water and share the merits they have gained with all the creatures living on the Thirty-One Planets of existence and say Sadhu or “Well done!” three times. This custom of charity is also admirable. The pleasant sound of the triangular brass gong is the symbol of the act of charity, saying “Ahmya” three times to share the merits with others and saying prayers.
The customs, as mentioned earlier, are rare and admirable ones which can be found only in Myanmar. There are many other Myanmar customs apart from these that are worthy of appreciation. We can’t forget our lovely traditions and cultures any time. Customs speak a lot about a country’s culture and values. Our customs also show mutual respect, love, care, peace and humanity. So, it is our social duty to preserve our traditions and customs.

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