Wine & saffron

Buddhism in Myanmar is predominantly of the Theravada tradition, practised by 90% of the country’s population. It is the most religious Buddhist country in terms of the proportion of monks in the population and proportion of income spent on religion. Monks, collectively known as the sangha, are venerated members of Burmese society. Among many ethnic groups in Myanmar Theravada Buddhism is practised in conjunction with nat worship, which involves the placation of spirits who can intercede in worldly affairs. It is the most important duty of all Burmese parents to make sure their sons are admitted to the Buddhist Sangha by performing a shinbyu ceremony once they have reached the age of seven or older. All Buddhists are required to keep the basic Five Precepts, and novices are expected to keep the Ten Precepts. Parents expect them to stay at the kyaung immersed in the teachings of the Buddha as members of the Sangha for three months or longer. They will have another opportunity to join the Sangha at the age of 20, taking the upasampada ordination, to become a fully ordained bhikkhu, keeping the 227 precepts of the full monastic rules or Pātimokkha and perhaps remain a monk for life.