In Myanmar, Buddhism permeates the mind of the Burmese. Thus, the novitiate ceremony is considered as the most important feast in a person’s life here. With this in mind, children are sent to a temple or monastery for this ritual. It is a pride for themselves and for their whole family.
Novitiate Ceremony (Shin Pyu) – the Beauty of Burmese Culture
Shin Pyu is the most important holiday for the citizens of Myanmar. This practice contributes to the wealth of Burmese culture. For men in Myanmar, if they do not make the Shin Pyu in a temple or a monastery, they are not considered as good Buddhists. According to the Buddhist belief, children who leave home to become a monk can bring good karma to their whole family.
Parents accompany their children to the place of worship
From the beginning of the morning, a group of about 15 children, both boys, and girls (at the age of 15) dressed in traditional Myanmar clothes will be present at the place of worship in their village.
The organizer will inform about the ritual and open the ceremony with songs encouraging people to donate in order to buy bowls and clothes for novices. After the announcement, young people in colorful costumes will ride a horse and go around the village. All these practices resemble those of the old days when the Buddha made a choice to become a monk.
As the procession around the village of young novices takes place, songs continue to be heard, encouraging people to make offerings. Just behind the procession follows young girls holding offerings or baskets of flowers in hand. Parents will be lined up and follow the girls to a temple or a monastery in the village.
Here the monks will explain the advantages of becoming a monk to the children and their parents. Then the children shave their heads. Since then, these young novices will have no property, dressed in Buddhist clothes, with bare heads, bare feet, and a bowl to beg for alms every morning. If you are traveling to Burma, you will probably have a chance to see a group of monks go begging for food in the streets of town or village, which is very common in Myanmar.
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Typical life of a monk
The Buddhist monk gets up at 3:00 am, walking on streets to ask for his food.
Some monasteries serve as schools. In the rest of time, the young novices will stay the pagoda to learn Burmese letters, Buddhist scriptures in Pali and all that concern Buddhism. The time for novitiate can last from several days to several weeks, even several years.
Becoming a monk means strictly respecting hundreds of rules, in which theft, murder or sexual intercourse lead to immediate expulsion. The monk lives in a monastery and can leave the monastic life at any time when they want.
After a given time, many children leave the temple or monastery to return normal life, continuing to study at a higher school or marry. Every month in temples, there are days when novices return to normal life. Children who suffer from certain diseases such as cancer, asthma can not become monks.
The novitiate ceremony is carefully organized in each family. The offerings for this feast are considered as a proof of charity. If parents do not have the ability to celebrate this ritual, their friends can fund it by making donations. Thus, many families organize the novitiate ceremony together to reduce expenses.
The novitiate is usually required before an individual can become a monk. Therefore, this novitiate ceremony is a part of the rich Burmese culture. Travel Myanmar is a great opportunity for you to take part in one of the most unforgettable ceremonies in the life of a young Buddhist.